All ETDs from UAB

Advisory Committee Chair

Sylvie Mrug

Advisory Committee Members

Hector Gutierrez

Avi Madan-Swain

David Schwebel

Jan Wallander

Document Type

Dissertation

Date of Award

2010

Degree Name by School

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD) College of Arts and Sciences

Abstract

Adolescents diagnosed with a variety of chronic diseases are at increased risk for developing internalizing and externalizing problems. Various family factors may play an important role in adolescent adjustment, particularly in the chronic illness population given the important role that family members play in medical care and coping. Previous literature has demonstrated the separate contributions of parental attributions and adolescent attributions to adolescent adjustment. However, it is unknown whether parental coping affects adolescent mental health outcomes directly or indirectly by influencing children’s attributional style. Further, there is a dearth of research examining the role of family structure in coping in pediatric populations. The current project examined the relationships between parental coping style and family structure to adolescent adjustment. Adolescents (N=123; M= 14.4 yrs.) diagnosed with cystic fibrosis, diabetes, or muscular dystrophy and a caregiver completed measures of attributional style and adolescent adjustment. Mediation analyses indicated that adolescent attributions did not mediate the relationship between parent attributions and adolescent adjustment. However, both adolescent and parent attributions predicted teen externalizing problems, and adolescent attributions predicted depression and anxiety. Regression analyses indicated the number of active caregivers reported, but not family structure, was related to adolescent externalizing problems. Age and parental distress were also significant predictors of adolescent outcomes. These data represent a novel look at complex relations between family factors and adolescent adjustment. Results suggest that a key entry point for intervention may relate to parental mental health and adolescent coping.

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