Mental distress in mothers of child psychiatric patients

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Objective: To determine whether caring for a child with mental health issues could lead to mental distress among mothers.Design: Cross-sectional study.PLACE AND DURATION: Outpatient Clinics of The Aga Khan University Hospital and PNS Shifa Hospital, Karachi, from January to June 2005.PATIENTS AND Methods: A total of 238 consecutive mothers bringing their children to child psychiatric and pediatric clinics were recruited over a 6-month period. As per inclusion criteria, 106 mothers of child psychiatric patients were compared to 132 mothers taken from pediatric clinics. They were asked to fill out a psychiatric screening instrument (WHO SRQ-20). Mothers' mental distress (score>or=10 on SRQ-20) and other potential risk or protective factors were measured.Results: Mental distress among mothers determined by WHO SRQ-20 was associated with their child attending a psychiatric clinic (odds ratio 2.51, 95% confidence interval 1.38-4.51). This association remained significant for age of mother being less than 30 years. No significant association was found with the number of children and duration of marriage.CONCLUSION: Mental distress among mothers is associated with the child having psychiatric problems. These mothers may represent a group who are at higher risk of depression. Early recognition and treatment of mental health problems in mothers may help reduce psychiatric morbidity in children.


Journal of the College of Physicians and Surgeons Pakistan