Stress and adjustment in mothers of children with cystic fibrosis was compared with that in a control group of mothers of healthy children. Mothers of children in four age groups were included: preschool, middle childhood, early adolescence, and late adolescence. Mothers of children with cystic fibrosis did not report significantly higher levels of stress than did the control group mothers; nor did they report greater feelings of inadequacy as parents. However, mothers of children with cystic fibrosis in two age groups, preschool and early adolescence, scored higher on a measure of depression than did mothers of healthy children in the same age groups. The relationship of illness severity to maternal stress and adjustment was examined in the cystic fibrosis group. The mother's subjective rating of the child's illness severity was a better indicator of her reported stress than was the Shwachman clinical rating. It appears that many mothers are able to adapt to the presence of cystic fibrosis in the family, although certain periods in the child's life and perceived increases in illness severity are associated with increased maternal distress.

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