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Parenting and Adjustment in Schizophrenia

Caton, Carol L. M.; Cournos, Francine; Dominguez, Boanerges

Objective: Patients with schizophrenia who became parents and those who remained childless were compared on premorbid characteristics and current clinical and social adjustment.

Methods: Subjects were 400 men and women with a DSM-III-R diagnosis of chronic schizophrenia based on the Structured Clinical Interview for DSM-III-R (SCID). Assessments
measured concurrent substance abuse and antisocial behavior, positive and negative symptoms using the Positive and Negative Syndrome Scale, functional status using the Global Assessment of Functioning scale, family support, and treatment compliance. A total of 158 patients were parents (47 men and 111 women), and 242 were childless (153 men and 89 women).

Results: Compared with childless subjects, parents were more likely to have had better premorbid social adjustment, to have ever been married or involved in a conjugal relationship, and to have become ill at a later age. More than two-thirds of parents entered parenthood before the onset of schizophrenia. More women than men were parents, and parents were more likely to be members of ethnic minority groups. No differences were found in current clinical and social adjustment of parents and childless subjects.

Conclusions: Parenthood was associated with better premorbid social adjustment, but it conferred no advantage in the long-term course of schizophrenia. Patients who experience a later onset of schizophrenia or have better premorbid social skills may be more likely to undertake marriage and parenthood, but they will then also be more likely to need special support for the parenting role once the illness begins and takes its typical course.

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Also Published In

Title
Psychiatric Services
DOI
https://doi.org/10.1176/ps.50.2.239

More About This Work

Academic Units
Psychiatry
Published Here
September 28, 2017
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