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Minerva Pediatrica 2016 October;68(5):330-40


language: English

Stress levels in parents of children with and without attention deficit hyperactivity disorder during the back-to-school period: results of an international survey in Italy

Urania LOPRIENO 1, Antonella GAGLIANO 2

1 Clinical Development and Medical Affairs, Shire Italia S.p.A., Florence, Italy; 2 Division of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry, Department of Human Pathology, University of Messina, Messina, Italy


BACKGROUND: The back-to-school stress survey was an international, non-clinical opinion survey, which aimed to compare stress levels in parents of children with/without attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) during the back-to-school period. Here, we present results relating to the Italian sample, comparing them with European data.
METHODS: The questionnaire was built using a modified Holmes and Rahe stress scale. Parents of children with/without ADHD evaluated potentially stress-causing situations on a scale from 1 (low stress) to 10 (high stress).
RESULTS: In Italy, 107 parents of children with ADHD (mean age ± SD 40.3±7.3 years) and 105 parents of children without ADHD (mean age 42.2±6.6 years) participated in the survey. The mean age of children with ADHD was 10.3±3.1 years; 77.6% were male, 72.9% had been diagnosed with at least one comorbid condition — in particular conduct disorder (24.3%), learning disorders/dyslexia (23.4%) and language/communication disorder (19.6%) — and 32.7% were receiving ADHD medication. Parents of children with ADHD showed significantly higher stress levels (p≤0.005) compared with the non-ADHD group in all areas analyzed that were related to the return to school. Significant differences between groups (P<0.05) were also observed in most standard areas evaluated (e.g. personal life). These results were in agreement with data obtained for the overall European sample.
CONCLUSIONS: Parents of children with ADHD suffer significantly higher stress levels compared with parents of children without ADHD. Considering parental stress is important for the management of children with ADHD, as stress can affect the control of behavioral symptoms of children.

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