Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

Couples With Children With ADHD At Risk Of Higher Divorce Rates, Shorter Marriages

Date:
October 22, 2008
Source:
University at Buffalo
Summary:
Parents of a child with attention deficit hyperactivity disorder are nearly twice as likely to divorce by the time the child is 8 years old than parents of children without ADHD, the first study to look at this issue in depth has shown.

Parents of a child with attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) are nearly twice as likely to divorce by the time the child is 8 years old than parents of children without ADHD, the first study to look at this issue in depth has shown.

Moreover, among couples in the study who were divorced, marriages involving children with ADHD ended sooner than marriages with no ADHD-diagnosed children.

William E. Pelham, Jr., Ph.D., professor of psychology and pediatrics at the University at Buffalo and director of UB's Center for Children and Families, is senior author on the study. Pelham is known internationally for his ADHD treatment and research, and each year conducts UB's Summer Treatment Program, a highly successful behavior-modification program that has helped hundreds of children with ADHD and has been replicated nationwide.

Brian T. Wymbs, who received his doctorate in clinical psychology at UB and is completing a postdoctoral fellowship at Western Psychiatric Institute and Clinic in Pittsburgh, Pa., is first author.

Results of the study appear in the October issue of the Journal of Consulting and Clinical Psychology.

Additional findings from a subset of divorced couples with children with ADHD showed that several characteristics within the family contribute individually to the risk of divorce: age of the child when diagnosed; race and ethnicity of the parents; severity of coexisting disorders in children with ADHD, such as oppositional-defiant disorder (ODD) and conduct disorder (CD); education levels of the parents; and a father's antisocial behavior (trouble with the law.)

"We believe this is the first study to find that both parent and child factors individually predict the rate and time of divorce," said Pelham. "Moreover, this is the only study to demonstrate that the severity of the child's disruptive behavior, specifically those with ODD or CD, increases the risk of divorce.

"Certainly we are not suggesting that having a child with ADHD is the only reason these marriages end in divorce," noted Pelham. "Disruptive child behavior likely interacts over time with other existing stress in the family to spark conflict in a marriage and, ultimately, divorce." Wymbs' research documents that when parents interact with an ADHD child, they are more distressed, argue with one another more and view one another as less supportive, compared to when they interact with a child without ADHD.

Data for the study was gathered from a subset of participants in a larger investigation called the Pittsburgh ADHD Longitudinal Study (PALS), which is funded by grants from the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism (NIAAA) and the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA) to Pelham and Brooke Molina, Ph.D., from the University of Pittsburgh.

Some 282 adolescents and young adults who had been diagnosed with the disorder in childhood and their parents completed a series of questionnaires and diagnostic instruments, along with individual interviews. The child's birth date was used as the starting point of the time to divorce.

These results were compared with those from 206 demographically similar PALS participants without ADHD and their parents.

Results showed that 22.7 percent of parents of children with ADHD had divorced by the time the child was 8 years old, compared to 12.6 percent of parents in the control group. Divorce rates of parents with and without children with ADHD were not significantly different after children passed the 8-year mark.

"Families that 'survive' through that age, perhaps because they are low on all of the risk factors, apparently will make it through the rest of the child's childhood," Pelham said.

Of the characteristics that may contribute to risk of divorce, a father's antisocial behavior proved to be the largest factor. The rate of divorce also increased when mothers had substantially less education than fathers; children were diagnosed with ADHD at a younger age; families had racial or ethnic minority children and children had serious ODD or CD behavior problems. "With these findings in mind," Wymbs and Pelham said, "those who treat children with ADHD and disruptive behavior problems should take note if parents are having marriage problems and try to intervene to prevent the children from going through the trauma of divorce."

However, they also pointed out that for some couples who may have serious and frequent marital conflict and are raising difficult-to-manage children, divorce may be the best option for the children.


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by University at Buffalo. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Cite This Page:

University at Buffalo. "Couples With Children With ADHD At Risk Of Higher Divorce Rates, Shorter Marriages." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 22 October 2008. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2008/10/081021185207.htm>.
University at Buffalo. (2008, October 22). Couples With Children With ADHD At Risk Of Higher Divorce Rates, Shorter Marriages. ScienceDaily. Retrieved September 23, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2008/10/081021185207.htm
University at Buffalo. "Couples With Children With ADHD At Risk Of Higher Divorce Rates, Shorter Marriages." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2008/10/081021185207.htm (accessed September 23, 2014).

Share This



More Health & Medicine News

Tuesday, September 23, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

Liberia Pleads for Help to Fight Ebola

Liberia Pleads for Help to Fight Ebola

AP (Sep. 22, 2014) Liberia's finance minister is urging the international community to quickly follow through on pledges of cash to battle Ebola. Bodies are piling up in the capital Monrovia as the nation awaits more help. (Sept. 22) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Ebola Doctor Says Border Controls Critical

Ebola Doctor Says Border Controls Critical

AP (Sep. 22, 2014) A Florida doctor who helped fight the expanding Ebola outbreak in West Africa says the disease can be stopped, but only if nations quickly step up their response and make border control a priority. (Sept. 22) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Global Ebola Aid Increasing But Critics Say It's Late

Global Ebola Aid Increasing But Critics Say It's Late

Newsy (Sep. 21, 2014) More than 100 tons of medical supplies were sent to West Africa on Saturday, but aid workers say the global response is still sluggish. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Sierra Leone in Lockdown to Control Ebola

Sierra Leone in Lockdown to Control Ebola

AP (Sep. 21, 2014) Sierra Leone residents remained in lockdown on Saturday as part of a massive effort to confine millions of people to their homes in a bid to stem the biggest Ebola outbreak in history. (Sept. 20) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com

Search ScienceDaily

Number of stories in archives: 140,361

Find with keyword(s):
Enter a keyword or phrase to search ScienceDaily for related topics and research stories.

Save/Print:
Share:

Breaking News:

Strange & Offbeat Stories


Health & Medicine

Mind & Brain

Living & Well

In Other News

... from NewsDaily.com

Science News

Health News

Environment News

Technology News



Save/Print:
Share:

Free Subscriptions


Get the latest science news with ScienceDaily's free email newsletters, updated daily and weekly. Or view hourly updated newsfeeds in your RSS reader:

Get Social & Mobile


Keep up to date with the latest news from ScienceDaily via social networks and mobile apps:

Have Feedback?


Tell us what you think of ScienceDaily -- we welcome both positive and negative comments. Have any problems using the site? Questions?
Mobile: iPhone Android Web
Follow: Facebook Twitter Google+
Subscribe: RSS Feeds Email Newsletters
Latest Headlines Health & Medicine Mind & Brain Space & Time Matter & Energy Computers & Math Plants & Animals Earth & Climate Fossils & Ruins