Parental response to cystic fibrosis: A contextual analysis of the diagnosis phase

Alexandra L. Quittner, Ann M. Digirolamo, Marti Michel, Howard Eigen

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

111 Scopus citations


A contextual framework guided the measurement of specific stressors encountered by parents of children recently diagnosed with cystic fibrosis (CF). Three variables were assessed within the context of the parenting role: illness-specific tasks, normal parenting tasks, and strains in family roles. These situation-specific stressors were contrasted with global measures of parenting stress in their ability to predict depression. Sixty-four parents (36 mothers, 28 fathers) of infants and toddlers recently diagnosed with CF completed a structured interview and standardized measures in the home. Parents reported elevations in both situation-specific and global parenting stress, and a greater number of depressive symptoms than a norm group. Mothers reported significantly greater strain in managing their caregiving role and higher levels of depression than fathers. Controlling for situation-specific parenting stress and marital satisfaction, regression analyses indicated that role strain related to CF was associated with greater depression in mothers, but not fathers. Furthermore, stressors measured contextually rather than globally accounted for substantially greater proportions of the variance in depression. The findings highlight the need to measure ongoing strains specific to the medical condition, and to assess role-related changes.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)683-704
Number of pages22
JournalJournal of pediatric psychology
Issue number6
StatePublished - Dec 1 1992


  • Cystic fibrosis
  • Diagnosis
  • Parental adjustment
  • Parenting stress
  • Role strain

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Pediatrics, Perinatology, and Child Health
  • Developmental and Educational Psychology

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