Examining the Association Between Mentalizing and Parental Mental Health in a Sample of Caregivers of Children with Asthma

Malda Castillo, Javier and Browne, Claire and Perez Algorta, Guillermo (2020) Examining the Association Between Mentalizing and Parental Mental Health in a Sample of Caregivers of Children with Asthma. Couple and Family Psychology: Research and Practice, 9 (1). pp. 33-44. ISSN 2160-4096

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Background: Caregivers of children with asthma are at higher risk of experiencing mental health difficulties and lower quality of life than caregivers of healthy children. Mentalizing is a psychological construct that defines the ability of understanding one’s own and others’ states of mind. Poor levels of mentalizing are strongly associated with a wide range of mental health difficulties such as depression, anxiety or emotional dysregulation. This cross-sectional study is the first to examine the associations between mentalizing and mental health in a sample of caregivers of children with asthma. Method: Caregivers of children (mean age=6.53, SD=3.72, ages 1 to 17) with asthma were recruited from social media support groups and the Asthma UK charity research bulletin. Participants completed self report measures of mentalizing, family functioning, mood and anxiety difficulties. Results: A total of 88 caregivers completed the full survey. Results indicated that poorer mentalizing capacity was significantly associated with poorer family functioning and increased mood and anxiety symptomatology. Poor mentalizing was significantly associated with increased levels of depression, hypomania and anxiety, explaining 16% of variance in depression and 10% of variance in anxiety. Family functioning was not a significant predictor after controlling for the effect of mentalizing. Conclusions: These findings suggest that mentalizing capacity might be a valued new treatment target to improve the mental health of caregivers of children with asthma. The results suggest that mentalizing could complement previously identified factors such as family functioning or asthma symptom severity in understanding caregivers’ mental health. Further investigation into the role of mentalizing in the mental health of this population is warranted.

Item Type:
Journal Article
Journal or Publication Title:
Couple and Family Psychology: Research and Practice
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©American Psychological Association, 2020. This paper is not the copy of record and may not exactly replicate the authoritative document published in the APA journal. Please do not copy or cite without author's permission. The final article is available, upon publication, at: https://doi.org/10.1037/cfp000013210.1037/cfp0000132
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17 Dec 2019 11:40
Last Modified:
09 Jan 2024 00:25