Perceived child behaviors and maternal stress/depression in the families of ADHD children: A comparative study




Jurek, Paul

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This quantitative study compared the perceptions of mothers' of children with Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder by measuring their children's level of distractibility/hyperactivity on a self-rating scale. The purpose of this study was to compare the reported distractibility/hyperactivity as perceived by the mothers and to compare this level with their own self-reported levels of stress and depression. The groups of mothers were compared in terms of high level and low level stress and high level and low levels of depression as they related to their perceived intensity of their children' s behavior problems. Volunteer participants for this research included 47 mothers. This study was conducted at a private outpatient mental health center in a West Texas community. There was a wide distribution of the mothers' ages from 23 to 64 years. The demographics reflected a racial mix as well as a mix in educational level achieved and marital status. There was a widespread income level represented in the sample. Some of the mothers had received mental health services for themselves in the past or were doing so at the time of the study. The hypotheses for this study were:

  1. There is no significant difference in the amount of distractibility/hyperactivity perceived by the mother of an ADHD child based on her level of measured stress.
  2. There is no significant difference between the amount of distractibility/hyperactivity perceived by the mother of an ADHD child based on her level of measured depression. The Parenting Stress Index was used to measure both the total stress of the mothers as well as their perception of their children's distractibility/ hyperactivity. The Beck Depression Inventory II was used to measure the depression level of the mother. In this comparative study the independent variables included high and low stress for the first hypothesis and high and low depression for the second hypothesis. The distractibility/hyperactivity of the children was the dependent variable for both. An independent t test and the Analysis of Variance were used to compare data. Results were significant for both hypotheses at the .01 level. Both null hypotheses were rejected. Additional analysis revealed a statistical significance in the mothers who had received mental health services for themselves. They were more likely to perceive their children as more distractible/hyperactive. Practical implications of these findings is important in clinical settings. Therapists may be more inclined to assess the needs of the mothers of ADHD children and offer services.



Attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder, Stress, Depression, Parent and child