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Interactions between children with juvenile rheumatoid arthritis and their mothers.

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Power TG, Dahlquist LM, Thompson SM, Warren R.

Washington State University. University of Maryland Baltimore County. St. Louis Children’s Hospital. Baylor College of Medicine and Texas Children’s Hospital.

Objective To determine the degree to which mothers of children with juvenile rheumatoid arthritis (JRA) show an overprotective or highly controlling interaction style.

METHOD: We videotaped 84 mother-child pairs (42 JRA and 42 healthy, ages 6 to 13) while working on a collaborative problem-solving task. Based on physical therapy evaluations, children in the JRA group were assigned to “more severe” (n = 19) and “milder” (n = 22) arthritis subgroups.

RESULTS: Results showed numerous differences between mothers of children with more severe arthritis and the other mothers (no differences between the milder arthritis and healthy comparison groups were found). Compared to mothers in the other two groups, mothers of children with more severe arthritis were more directive of their children’s behavior during the task, showing higher rates of structure and rule setting, general clues, and prompting the child for an answer. Discussion Sequential analyses showed that mothers in the more severe group appeared to treat the task in a more evaluative manner, being more likely than other mothers to respond to correct answers with positive feedback and to incorrect answers with structure and rule setting. Mothers in the other groups were more likely to respond to both correct and incorrect answers with specific clues.

CONCLUSIONS: We discuss how these differences in interactional style might impact the social development of children with JRA.

J Pediatr Psychol 2003 Apr;28(3):213-21

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