Parental overprotection and heart-focused anxiety in adults with congenital heart disease

Lephuong Ong, Robert P. Nolan, Jane Irvine, Adrienne H. Kovacs

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

79 Scopus citations


Background: The care of adult patients with congenital heart disease (CHD) is challenging from a mental health perspective, as these patients continue to face a variety of biopsychosocial issues that may impact emotional functioning. Despite these issues, there are limited data on the psychosocial functioning of adults with CHD, and there are no data on the impact of parental overprotection on heart-focused anxiety in this patient population. Purpose: The aim of this study was to examine the relationships between patient recollections of parental overprotection and current heart-focused anxiety in adults with CHD. Method: A cross-sectional sample of 190 adult patients with CHD (51% male; mean age=32.28, SD=11.86 years) completed validated measures of perceived parental overprotection (Parental Bonding Instrument) and heart-focused anxiety (Cardiac Anxiety Questionnaire). Results: The results indicated that perceived parental overprotection (β=0.19, p=0.02) and heart defect complexity (β=0.17, p=0.03) were significantly related to heart-focused anxiety. Contrary to hypotheses, perceived parental overprotection did not vary as a function of heart defect complexity (F (2, 169)=0.02, p=0.98). Conclusion: Perceived parental overprotection and heart defect complexity are associated with heart-focused anxiety in adults with congenital heart disease. These results can inform the development of clinical interventions aimed at improving the psychosocial adjustment of this patient population.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)260-267
Number of pages8
JournalInternational Journal of Behavioral Medicine
Issue number3
StatePublished - Sep 2011
Externally publishedYes


  • Anxiety
  • Congenital heart disease
  • Overprotection

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Applied Psychology


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