Parental stress and child anxiety and depression : A cross-sectional survey study in Sweden and Switzerland

University essay from Högskolan i Skövde/Institutionen för hälsovetenskaper

Abstract: Introduction: The shift from single- to dual-earner households means that, often, both parents have joined the paid labor force. The demands of work and family can conflict, and this conflict can be a major stressor to parents in today’s high-income countries. Parental stress has been connected to child anxiety and depression, known precursors for mental disorders later on in life. Aim: The aim of this study is to describe differences between convenience samples of Swedish and Swiss parents, exploring the relationship between parental stress (high and low stress parents) and perceived symptoms of anxiety and depression in their children. Methods: A cross-sectional comparative survey was conducted among convenience samples of n=45 Swedish and n=30 Swiss parents of children ages 7-10 years. Parents were categorized as having high (> weekly) or low stress (< weekly). Raw scores from the Revised Children's Anxiety and Depression Scale (RCADS) 25 parent version were calculated as the outcome. Data were analyzed using t-tests and Chi-square tests using SPSS-25. Results were considered significant at p<0.05. Results: There was a significant correlation between high parental stress and RCADS-25-P scores. Swedish parents reported having to make priorities between activities in the family schedule more often than Swiss parents. Household chores correlated positively with parental stress. Conclusion: Families in both countries report stressors, and there was observed a relationship between parental stress and perceived symptoms of anxiety and depression among their 7-10 year old children. Social support, in the form of family-friendly workplace policies, may be useful in addressing these determinants of health.

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