To examine whether sociodemographic and condition-related characteristics are associated with conduct problems in children with chronic health conditions.
Mothers of children 5 to 8 years old with diverse chronic health conditions who received care at 2 large urban medical centers.
Mothers responded to a face-to-face structured interview that included the Eyberg Child Behavior Inventory, the Psychiatric Symptom Index, and questions about sociodemographic and health condition–related characteristics.
Of the 356 children assessed, 138 (38.8%) had conduct problems as defined by criteria of the Eyberg Child Behavior Inventory. In logistic regression analyses, conduct problems were associated with younger child age, mother having a husband or partner unrelated to her child, poorer perceived prognosis, child having a learning disability, and maternal self-report of high emotional distress on the Psychiatric Symptom Index. Conduct problems were not related to child sex, maternal ethnicity or education, family receiving welfare, or a wide range of condition-related factors, including age at diagnosis, visibility to others, need to watch for sudden changes, presence of mobility or sensory-communication problems, using medication or equipment, annual hospitalizations, or physician visits.
Conduct problems in children with chronic health conditions appear to be associated more closely with their sociodemographic and family characteristics than with condition-related risk factors. Additional research remains to be done on the ways that maternal adjustment, diagnosis-specific condition characteristics, and other risk factors influence children's behavior.