Medical News

Anxiety/Stress Among Mothers Living With HIV: Effects on Parenting Skills and Child Outcomes

January 11, 2011

In their introduction the authors noted, "Parental HIV infection has been associated with negative outcomes for children, and parenting skills appear to be one mechanism operating in that association." The current study examines the relations between maternal stress, parenting, and child functioning among families where the mother is living with HIV infection.

The subjects, 69 mothers with at least one child age six to 12 years, completed questionnaires at the baseline assessment of an intervention designed to facilitate maternal disclosure of HIV status. Multiple measures of stress/anxiety, parenting skills, and child outcomes were assessed via the Parenting Stress Index, the RAND Mental Health Inventory, the Family Routines Questionnaire, and the Child Behavior Checklist. To assess the variable relationships, covariance structural modeling was used, with latent constructs created for maternal anxiety/stress, parenting skills, and child problem behaviors; both direct and indirect effects were evaluated, with a model-based bootstrap used to verify model stability.


The results showed that maternal stress was negatively associated with a broad range of parenting skills, and that parenting skills were negatively associated with child problem behaviors.

"Mothers living with HIV who are anxious about their own health and functioning, and who were more stressed in their parental role, were more likely to exhibit poorer parenting skills -- specifically to engage children less frequently in family routines (e.g., eating meals together, having a bedtime routine), poorer parent-child communication, and poorer and less consistent parenting discipline," the authors reported.

"Not uncommonly, mothers living with HIV experience a range of stressors above and beyond those related to their illness (e.g., poverty, residence in high-risk and low-resource communities, discrimination)," the team concluded. "Results demonstrate the need for interventions designed to decrease maternal stress and enhance parenting skills for families affected by HIV."

Back to other news for January 2011

Adapted from:
12.2010; Vol. 22; No. 12: P. 1449-1458; Debra A. Murphy; William D. Marelich; Lisa Armistead; Diane M. Herbeck; Diana L. Payne

This article was provided by CDC National Prevention Information Network. It is a part of the publication CDC HIV/Hepatitis/STD/TB Prevention News Update.

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