The awareness of primary physicians of the psychosocial adjustment of children with a chronic illness

Mark J. Merkens, Ellen C. Perrin, James M. Perrin, P. SUSAN Gerrity

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

20 Scopus citations


This study compared primary care physicians' ratings of psychosocial adjustment of their chronically ill pediatric patients with parents' and children's reports. A series of measures of psychosocial adjustment were administered to 63 children with either a seizure disorder or a visible orthopedic condition, and their parents. Each child's physician was asked to rate the presence and severity of psychological adjustment problems in the child, as well as to rate six specific psychosocial domains. Forty-one physicians responded, and relationships between their ratings and child and parent psychosocial measures were determined using Pearson product-moment correlation coefficients. Ratings by physicians correlated with children's reports and parents' judgments about the children, but not with mothers' self-concept or the impact that the illness had on the family. However, physicians' ratings were interdependent. When congruence of physician ratings with child or parent reports was examined for each disease group, we found significant results for the seizure disorder group; however, congruence among ratings for the orthopedically handicapped group was poor. Student's t-tests revealed no statistically significant differences between the two disease groups in any of the demographic variables of the children or physicians, nor in their scores on the criterion measures. Hierarchical multiple regression analysis identified factors that contributed to physicians' significantly different congruence with parents regarding the adjustment of children in the two subsamples. The findings of this study suggested that primary care physicians were moderately aware of the presence and severity of psychosocial adjustment problems in some categories of their pediatric patients with chronic illness. Physicians may focus their attention more accurately on individual children rather than on parents and the larger family unit of which each child is a part.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1-6
Number of pages6
JournalJournal of Developmental and Behavioral Pediatrics
Issue number1
StatePublished - Feb 1989


  • Adjustment
  • Assessment
  • Chronic illness
  • Coping
  • Physician
  • Primary care

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Pediatrics, Perinatology, and Child Health
  • Developmental and Educational Psychology
  • Psychiatry and Mental health


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