The role of stigma in parental help-seeking for child behavior problems.

  • Robert Dempster, Beth Wildman, Adam Keating
  • Published 2013 in Journal of clinical child and adolescent psychology : the official journal for the Society of Clinical Child and Adolescent Psychology, American Psychological Association, Division 53


The present study examined the relationship between stigma and parental help-seeking after controlling for demographics, child behavior, and barriers to treatment. One hundred fifteen parents of children ages 4 to 8 years were surveyed during well-child visits in a rural pediatric primary care practice. Parental perceptions of stigma toward parents and children were both assessed. Parents believe that children are more likely to be stigmatized by the public and personally impacted by stigma. In linear regression analyses, parents rated themselves as more likely to attend parenting classes with lower levels of self-stigma and greater levels of personal impact of stigma. Stigma toward the child was not associated with help-seeking. Child behavior moderated the relationship between stigma and parental help-seeking. When referring parents to treatment, providers should address potential stigma concerns. Future research should assess both the impact of the stigma of attending treatment and the stigma of having a child with behavior problems.


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