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30-10-2019 | Original Paper | Uitgave 1/2020

Journal of Child and Family Studies 1/2020

Attachment and Parent-Adolescent Discrepancies in Reports of Family Functioning among Suicidal Adolescents

Tijdschrift:
Journal of Child and Family Studies > Uitgave 1/2020
Auteurs:
Cindy J. Chang, Christine McCauley Ohannessian, E. Stephanie Krauthamer Ewing, Roger Kobak, Guy S. Diamond, Joanna Herres
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Abstract

Objectives

The current study examined parent-adolescent discrepancies in reports of family functioning and their relation to attachment styles, depressive symptomatology, and suicidal ideation in a diverse sample of adolescents (49.7% African American, 15.5% Hispanic/Latino, 28.7% White, 81.9% female).

Methods

Participants were 129 adolescents (ages 12–18) and one caregiver (79% mothers). Adolescents had met inclusion criteria in a Randomized Clinical Trial for depressed and suicidal adolescents. Measures of family functioning, symptoms, and attachment styles were assessed at baseline prior to treatment.

Results

On average, adolescents reported less family cohesion compared to caregivers (t (127) = −3.01, p = 0.003) but similar levels of family conflict (p> 0.05). Polynomial regression models demonstrated that avoidant attachment styles with mother figures were associated with adolescent-reported family conflict when parents reported low family conflict (b = 0.79, SE = 0.24, p < 0.01).

Conclusions

It is possible that avoidant attachment styles are linked to mistuned patterns of communication that in turn, enhance differing views of family conflict. Conversely, an avoidant attachment style may be maintained when adolescents perceive family conflict that is not validated by their caregiver. This study supports and extends previous findings that discrepant views of family functioning indicate problems in the parent-adolescent relationship. Findings are consistent with research demonstrating the clinical relevance of informant discrepancies beyond information obtained from only one respondent’s report.

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