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The role of parental stress on emotional and behavioral problems in offspring: a systematic review with meta-analysis.

Jornal de Pediatria 2024 April 16
OBJECTIVE: Empirical evidence underscores an association between parental stress and emotional and behavioral problems in offspring. However, a comprehensive systematic review or meta-analysis on this topic is lacking. Thus, this study aims to address the scientific inquiry: Is there a relationship between parental stress and emotional/behavioral problems in children?

SOURCES: This systematic review with a meta-analysis surveyed PubMed, PsycINFO, and the Biblioteca Virtual em Saúde between August and September 2021. The present search combined terms (school-age children) AND (parental stress OR parenting stress OR family stress) AND (emotional and behavioral problems OR internalizing and externalizing problems). Eligibility criteria encompassed cross-sectional, cohort, and case-control studies published within the last five years, exploring the association between parental stress (stressful life events and parenthood-related stress disorders) and emotional/behavioral problems in school-age children. PROSPERO ID CRD42022274034.

SUMMARY OF THE FINDINGS: Of the 24 studies meeting all inclusion criteria (n = 31,183) for the systematic review, nine were eligible for inclusion in the meta-analysis. The meta-analysis revealed an association between parental stress and emotional problems (COR: 0.46 [95 % CI: 0.27 - 0.61], p < 0.001, Heterogeneity = 89 %) as well as behavioral problems (COR: 0.37 [95 % CI: 0.27 - 0.46], p < 0.001, Heterogeneity = 76 %).

CONCLUSIONS: These findings indicate that parental stress predicts emotional/behavioral problems in school-age children. Since these problems are related to long-term negative effects in adulthood, these results are crucial for preventing mental health problems in offspring and for screening and managing parental stress.

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