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Maternal ADHD symptoms and maternal ratings of child ADHD symptoms : are more inattentive mothers less accurate? Jassy, Jonathan S.


Maternal reports are crucial in the diagnosis of Attention-Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) in children. While some past research has found that the presence of psychopathologies such as depression bias maternal reports of child ADHD symptoms, few studies have explored the effects of maternal ADHD symptoms on maternal ratings of child ADHD behavior. The current study examined whether maternal ADHD symptoms of inattention (IA) and hyperactivity/impulsivity (HI) are related to rating accuracy in a community sample of 97 mothers (M age = 39.7 years) of 5-12-year-old boys. Mothers completed measures of their own and their child’s functioning as well as of their family demographics; mothers and other informants also provided ratings of the mothers’ ADHD symptoms. Mothers watched videotapes of children with ADHD and then rated each child’s symptoms of ADHD. Analyses of associations between maternal ADHD symptoms and maternal rating accuracy (i.e. commission errors and omission errors) controlled for maternal and family characteristics that typically co-occur with maternal ADHD symptoms. Contrary to predictions, results revealed few significant associations overall, with neither maternal IA nor maternal HI symptoms being associated with either maternal rating commission or omission rating errors or with bias in rating videotaped child behavior, once covariates were controlled. Analysis of covariates further revealed that, while lower family SES and mothers' own sons' level of oppositional/conduct problems were each associated with mothers’ over-reporting ADHD symptoms in the videotaped children, few other significant associations between covariates and maternal ratings emerged for this sample. Overall, results may be interpreted as supporting past research in finding no associations between maternal ADHD symptoms and maternal rating accuracy or bias. Alternatively, characteristics of the current sample, especially the exclusion of mothers with clinical levels of ADHD symptoms in themselves or their sons, may have prevented significant relationships from emerging.

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