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Few studies have assessed the characteristics of spousal psychopathologies among parents of schoolchildren with and without psychological disorders (PD) in China.
Parental symptoms were measured using the General Health Questionnaire (GHQ) in 275 mothers and 278 fathers of 298 schoolchildren with PDs diagnosed in a population survey and in 825 mothers and 834 fathers of 894 schoolchildren without PDs as a 1:3 matched comparison group. Spousal GHQ scores were compared. Childhood PD type, presence of childhood comorbidities, and multiple parental and family characteristics were examined as predictors for parental GHQ scores by multiple linear regression analyses.
The GHQ scores were significantly higher among mothers and fathers of children with any PD. Maternal GHQ scores were higher than paternal scores and significantly correlated with paternal GHQ scores in both groups. Spousal GHQ, personal PD history, and childhood PD comorbidity were significant independent predictors of both parents’ GHQ scores. There were also significant associations among parental chronic disease, low family income, and paternal and maternal GHQ score, as well as among low maternal education, less common disorder (LCD) prevalence in children and maternal GHQ score. The rate of GHQ score ≥3 for both parents was significantly higher in the study group than the control group (15.1 vs.7.0%).
Parents of children with any PD type demonstrate significantly elevated psychopathologies, and psychopathology tends to occur concomitantly and resemble that of the other spouse. Screening and treatment of parental psychiatric symptoms will benefit all family members.
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