Journal of Neuropsychology

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Factors contributing to parent–child interaction quality following mild traumatic brain injury in early childhood

There is emerging evidence that parent–child interactions are affected by early childhood traumatic brain injury (TBI). These findings are of functional importance when considering the high prevalence of TBI in early childhood alongside evidence that young children exposed to positive relationships with their parents early in life exhibit better social functioning concurrently and longitudinally. Given that the overall quality of parent–child interactions is the result of both parent and child emotional and behavioural dispositions, it remains unclear which parental or child‐related factors contribute to the quality of interactions post‐TBI. The aim of this study was to investigate the factors that contribute to the quality of parent–child interactions following early childhood TBI. The sample included 68 children (18–60 months at recruitment) with accidental, uncomplicated mild TBI (mTBI). The quality of parent–child interactions was assessed 6 months post‐injury using the Mutually Responsive Orientation scale, an observational measure of the dyadic quality of parent–child exchanges. Potential contributing factors were assessed among parental factors (e.g., age, socioeconomic status, family burden, parental stress, marital satisfaction) and child‐related factors (e.g., age, sex, symptoms, fatigue, adaptive/behavioural skills). Socioeconomic status, child post‐concussive symptoms, and child sleep problems were found to be significant independent contributing factors to parent–child interactions six months post‐injury. This study provides the first evidence that both parental and child factors relate to the quality of parent–child interactions following mTBI, thus contributing to a better understanding of the scope and complexity of factors that play a role in childrens' recovery.

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