Category: Child / Adolescent - Depression
Stress such as peer rejection or academic problems plays a crucial role in influencing adolescents’ mental health. Discrepancies between parent- and self-reports of adolescent behavior can be a challenging factor when assessing level of stress as a key domain contributing to psychological functioning. This study aimed to compare reporting of chronic life stress by parent and child among adolescents with symptoms of depression. We hypothesized that parents will report higher levels of chronic life stress for their children in domains related to close friendships, social life and romantic relationships compared with adolescent self-reports.
Participants were recruited through the Stanford Prevention and Intervention Lab as part of a larger study. Participants were adolescents with symptoms of depression, measured with the Child’s Depression Rating Scale-Revised (CDRS-R). Chronic life stress was assessed with the Youth Life Stress Interview (YLSI) administered separately to both parent and child. YLSI measures biopsychosocial stress in domains including Close Friendships, Social Life, Romantic Relationships, Family Relationships, Academic, Work Capabilities, Family and Individual Finances, Health of Child and Health of Family and yields a total score in addition to domain subscale scores. Data was analyzed with SPSS V24 using paired samples t-tests to compare parent and child scores on different domains of life stress.
Participants (n=35) were predominantly male (61.5%) with a mean age of 15.75 years old (SD=2.2, range = 12-17). No statistically significant difference was found between child and parent total reporting of chronic life stress (t=1.983, df=31, p=.06). When compared with adolescents, parents reported higher levels of stress related to Close Friendships (t=2.70, df=33, p< .05). No significant difference was found between parent- and self-report of stress in Social Life and Romantic Relationships domains (t= -.867, df=33, p= .39 and t= -.304, df=33, p= .76 respectively).
Results of this study showed no significant difference between parent- and self- reports of total chronic level of stress, social life, or romantic relationships. Parents reported higher levels of close friendship stress compared with adolescents. While unclear whether adolescents are underreporting or parents are overreporting, lack of communication among family members may explain this difference. Therefore, when interviewing families, clinicians should consider both parent and adolescent reports of interpersonal stress. A limitation of this study was a small number of participants. Future directions could include examination of mediating or moderating factors affecting the discrepancy between self- and parent- stress report such as family relationship styles and history of mental health problems.
University of California - Berkeley