The objective of this study was to identify the relationship between the degree of uncertainty in the child's chronic condition and family distress. Data were collected from parents (173 mothers, 150 fathers) of young children (12 to 30 months old) who had been diagnosed with a chronic physical health impairment within the past 12 months. Children were divided into separate groups, first based on the predictability of their symptoms and next based on the degree of certainty in their life expectancy. Using analysis of covariance, sex-stratified comparisons were made between the predictability groups and then between the life expectancy groups and five subscales of the Impact-on-Tamily Scale. Parents of young children with chronic conditions with intermittently unpredictable symptoms reported significantly more family distress than parents of children with more predictable symptoms. No significant differences were found for mothers or fathers between the degree of uncertainty in the child's life expectancy and family distress.
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