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Parenting stress and perceived stigma in mothers of young children with epilepsy: A case–control study

Journal article
Authors C. Reilly
P. Atkinson
A. Memon
C. Jones
L. Dabydeen
K. B. Das
J. H. Cross
B. G. R. Neville
Christopher Gillberg
R. C. Scott
Published in Epilepsy and Behavior
Volume 89
Pages 112-117
ISSN 1525-5050
Publication year 2018
Published at Gillberg Neuropsychiatry Centre
Pages 112-117
Language en
Keywords Children, Epilepsy, Mothers, Parenting stress, Stigma
Subject categories Neurosciences


The aim was to provide data on parenting stress and perceived stigma in mothers (n = 47) of young children with epilepsy, and to compare findings with those of mothers (n = 48) of developmental, age- and gender-matched children with nonepilepsy-related neurodisability (neurological and/or neurodevelopmental concerns). The mothers of young children (1–7 years) with epilepsy and mothers of children with neurodisability in a defined geographical area of the UK, completed the Parenting Stress Index—4th Edition (PSI-4) and a measure of perceived stigma. Factors associated with parenting stress and stigma were analyzed using linear regression. Thirty-eight percent of mothers of children with epilepsy scored in the at-risk range (> 85th percentile) on the Total Stress score of the PSI-4 (Neurodisability 21%) (p = 0.06). Significantly more mothers of children with epilepsy scored in the at-risk range on the Parent–Child Dysfunctional Interaction subscale than mothers of children with neurodisability (Epilepsy 45% vs. Neurodisability 21%; p = 0.01), but not on the Parental Distress subscale (Epilepsy 32% vs. Neurodisability 23%; p = 0.33) or Difficult Child (Epilepsy 57% vs. Neurodisability 46%; p = 0.26) subscales. There was no statistically significant difference in perceived stigma between mothers in both groups (p = 0.51). Factors significantly associated with increased parenting stress in the group with epilepsy were child behavior difficulties (p < 0.001) and maternal sleep difficulties (p = 0.02). Lower child developmental level was the only factor independently associated with increased stigma in the group with epilepsy (p = 0.08). Mothers of young children with epilepsy report high levels of parenting stress and higher levels of difficulties with parent–child interaction compared with that of mothers of children with nonepilepsy-related neurodisability. Parenting stress and stigma in epilepsy were not associated with epilepsy factors. Efforts at reducing parenting stress and stigma should focus on interventions targeting child development and maternal sleep. © 2018 Elsevier Inc.

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