Psychosocial factors in 21 families with children affected by reflex neurovascular dystrophy were studied. Each family was interviewed and given a battery of standardized psychologic tests. Two distinct types of families were identified. Fifteen families showed high internal cohesion, expressiveness, and organization and low levels of conflict. Six families showed high overt conflict with low levels of family cohesion, expressiveness, and organization. In all families parental enmeshment with the patient was present. Marital discord was present in 12 families. Thirteen patients had significant school problems (ten had learning disabilities). Although most of the children were described as especially bright, only four had above average intelligence test scores. Four had a history of sexual abuse. The patients and their mothers perceived the health problem as significantly worse than did children with arthritis from whom similar scores had been obtained. Possible role models with similar symptoms were reported by ten patients. These data support the concept that childhood reflex neurovascular dystrophy is frequently a stress-related disease; the therapeutic approach to treating these children and their families must take these psychosocial factors into account.

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