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01-02-2007 | Original Paper | Uitgave 1/2007

Journal of Child and Family Studies 1/2007

Social Support as Predictor of Psychopathology in the Adolescent Offspring of Psychiatric Patients

Journal of Child and Family Studies > Uitgave 1/2007
Cees Hoefnagels, Cor Meesters, Joke Simenon


The potential role of social support for the adolescent offspring of psychiatric patients has hitherto not been examined. We examined whether the adolescent's level of psychiatric symptoms is dependent on the content and the function of social support (whether direct or moderating), controlling for perceived stress. In a cross-sectional design, 40 adolescents (11–18 yrs) with a parent exhibiting an affective or personality disorder were given several questionnaires, including the Youth Self Report (Achenbach), a Social Support Inventory, and the MUSIC, an inventory assessing perceived emotional and physiological stress reactions. The social support inventory consisted of three subscales to assess the positive and negative perception of social support, and the discrepancy between demand and supply of social support. The mentally-ill parents were given the General Health Questionnaire (GHQ). Data were then analyzed using multiple linear regression analyses. Analyses showed that perceived stress and negative social support predicted the adolescent's level of psychiatric symptoms, and that social support served as a direct effect, and was independent of parental GHQ score. Results are discussed and the presently under-utilized potential of social support for this population at risk is highlighted as something warranting increased attention both in terms of research and practical preventative steps.

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