Method: A sample of general population parents of children aged ten and younger was recruited from 30 mid-sized cities in California (N=853). Parenting items were measured via the Conflict Tactics Scale, Parent-Child Version. Weighted mixed effects negative binomial and logistic regression models were used to examine associations between poor parental health, prescription drug use and child maltreatment (physical abuse, supervisory neglect, and physical neglect), and problematic parenting (psychological aggression and corporal punishment).
Results: Parents in poor health used corporal punishment and psychological aggression more frequently and had higher odds of supervisory neglect. Parents who were using any prescription drugs used physical abuse more frequently, while those who were taking more prescriptions had higher odds of physical neglect. Exploratory analyses suggested that prescriptions for certain medical conditions both increased and decreased the risk of problematic parenting.
Discussion: Poor health and prescription drug use are not uncommon and present largely under-recognized risk factors for a spectrum of adverse parenting outcomes. Our study provides additional evidence that parents in poor health are at heightened risk of negative parenting, and need intervention in order to protect children.