Influence of Parental Reactions to Illness Behaviour in Childhood on Adolescent Health-related Decision-making

  • M. Martin
  • K. Clarke
  • C.N.G. Dawes


Background: It is unclear to what extent health-related decision-making in adolescence is influenced across a range of measures and illnesses by earlier parental reactions to illness behaviour in the child. Methods: 247 Participants, M = 16.8 years (SD = 0.5). Illness decision measures included visits to GPs, reported levels of illness disruption and vulnerability, and treatment-seeking scenarios for rash, urinary problems, and anxiety. Parental Reactions to Childhood Illness Behaviour (PRCIB) were assessed as in Crane and Martin (P&ID, 2002). Findings: Higher levels of PRCIB led to increased levels of GP visits, illness disruption and vulnerability. Examining levels of treatment-seeking, regression analysis showed PRCIB to be significant even after HADS depression and anxiety, sex and age had been extracted; compared to NHS guidelines, mean responses under-reacted to rash and urinary problems and over-reacted to anxiety. Discussion: Adolescents differed systematically in health-related decision-making as a function of childhood experience, with normative levels both exceeded and fallen short of in different areas, suggesting the need for targeted health education.
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