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Year : 2012  |  Volume : 33  |  Issue : 2  |  Page : 102-110

The impact of paediatric psychiatric morbidity as perceived by parents attending outpatient services

1 Department of Psychiatry, Faculty of Medicine, Cairo University, Cairo, Egypt
2 Department of Psychiatry, Beni Sueif University, Beni Sueif, Egypt

Correspondence Address:
Suaad Moussa
MD, Department of Psychiatry, Faculty of Medicine, Cairo University, 11451, Cairo
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Source of Support: None, Conflict of Interest: None

DOI: 10.7123/01.EJP.0000413183.73506.fb

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Recent literature has pointed out the importance of assessing the impact of a child’s mental illness on both the child and the parents. The term ‘impairment’ refers to the consequences of present psychiatric symptomatology for the children regarding their distress or functioning. In contrast, ‘burden’ reflects the problems for significant others, that is, the parents and other family members.


The objective of this study is to investigate the impact of psychiatric illness on children and the caregivers, along with the factors contributing to it.

Participants and methods

A total of 350 Children aged 4–16 years attending Child and Adolescent Outpatient Clinics for the first time with presenting complaints. Children were diagnosed according to the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, 4th ed., and parents were required to fill the Strengths and Difficulties Questionnaire (SDQ).


According to SDQ, 50.9% of the cases were in the abnormal range on the total difficulties score, whereas 77.8% were in the abnormal range on the impact score. Of the parents, 58.7% perceived their children as having definite/severe difficulties and 83% reported difficulties for a duration of more than 12 months. Classroom impairment was the most frequently reported; 80% of caregivers were significantly burdened by their children’s difficulties but only 46.4% perceived these difficulties as distressing to the child. The factors that predicted significant difficulties were the extent of total psychopathology and its duration and impairment. Scoring high on the prosocial scale negatively predicted the perceived difficulty. Moderate-to-severe burden was predicted by perceived difficulties and the impact of difficulties on the child’s life.


Perceived burden was the main motive driving parents to seek psychiatric services. It is predicted by perceived difficulties and impairment of the child.

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