Society for Social Work and Research

Sixteenth Annual Conference Research That Makes A Difference: Advancing Practice and Shaping Public Policy
11-15 January 2012 I Grand Hyatt Washington I Washington, DC

100P Effects of Parent-Child Discrepancies of Family Functioning On Youth Disruptive Behavior: A Multiple Family Group Intervention

Saturday, January 14, 2012
Independence F - I (Grand Hyatt Washington)
* noted as presenting author
Ashley A. Fuss, BA, Master of Social Work Candidate, Fordham University, New York, NY
Background and Purpose: Youth who suffer from disruptive behavior disorders have been associated with a poor developmental trajectory and are more likely to drop out of high school, have lower academic achievement and are at an increased risk for school maladjustment, antisocial activity, substance abuse and conduct problems (Fossum et al., 2007; Lahey & Loeber, 1997). Family dysfunction, poor parenting practices and inconsistent family relationships have been linked to childhood disruptive behavior (Kumpfter& Alvarado, 2003; Lindahl, 1998). Few studies have examined the relationship between discrepant parent-child reports of family functioning as predictors of youth outcomes. Whereas one may be quick to dismiss the discrepancies that exist between parents and children as measurement error or reporter bias, some studies suggest that parent-youth discrepancies may be able to predict important behaviors over time (De Los Reyes, Goodman, Kliewer & Reid-Quinones, 2009). Predictive relationships are especially likely if the discrepancies reflect deficits in aspects of family functioning that are critical to positive developmental outcomes (Guion, Mrug & Windle, 2008). The purpose of this study is to 1- Examine how discrepancies in the perceptions of family functioning between parents and children relate to youth disruptive behavior. 2- Examine the impact participation in the Multiple Family Group (MFG) intervention has on discrepancies in the perceptions of family functioning between parents and children and youth disruptive behavior.

Method: This study is a secondary analysis of baseline and post-test data from the Family Groups for Urban Youth with Disruptive Behavior study currently underway at the Mount Sinai Medical School, Department of Psychiatry and Community Medicine (Grant Number 5R01 MH072649 from the National Institute of Mental Health; Principal Investigator, Mary M. McKay, Ph.D.). Path analysis was used to estimate the direct and indirect effects of parent-child beliefs about the family discrepancies, parent-child family cohesion discrepancies and participation in the Multiple Family Group (MFG) intervention on youth disruptive behavior.

Results: Parent-child family functioning discrepancies were found to be associated with youth disruptive behavior. Results show that when children had less traditional views about family values than their parents, youth disruptive behavior increased (Β=.234, SE=.03, p<.05). However, when children viewed the family as being more cohesive than their parents, youth disruptive behavior decreased (Β=-.171, SE=.06, p<.05). Participation in MFG was associated with youth disruptive behavior (Β=-.250, SE=.09, p<.01). On average, children who participated in MFG had significantly less disruptive behavior at post-test than children who received outpatient mental health treatment. Parent-child family functioning discrepancies at baseline had an indirect effect on youth disruptive behavior at post-test (Β=.104, SE=.04, p<.01; Β=-.076, SE-.03, p<.01).

Implications: Given the relationship between discrepancies in the perceptions of family functioning between parents and children and youth disruptive behavior, it may be important for clinicians to assess for discrepancies when working with youth who struggle with their behavior. Finding out how children view their family and family relationships may provide useful information that can be used to improve behavior. Also, when designing new interventions, addressing the issue of discrepancy within the curriculum may produce promising child outcomes.