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Cluster Analysis of Maternal Characteristics and Perceptions of Child Behavior Problems in a Behavioral Pediatrics Practice


Journal of Developmental & Behavioral Pediatrics: February 2002 - Volume 23 - Issue 1 - p 31-36
Original Articles

ABSTRACT. Mothers bringing their children to a behavioral pediatrics clinic vary considerably in terms of concerns about their children, their own emotional status, and their sense of familial and social support. Knowledge of these factors may enhance differential diagnosis and advise treatment decisions. Mothers of 90 children ages 6–12 years completed the Child Behavior Checklist (CBCL), Mental Health Inventory (MHI), Dyadic Adjustment Scale (DAS), and Health Concerns Questionnaire before their initial appointment. Cluster analysis revealed four groups of mothers that varied in their apparent motivation for seeking assistance. These groups included advice-seeking mothers, mothers that had concerns about the medical well-being of their children, mothers that were overwhelmed by their current circumstances, and mothers whose concerns about their dyadic relationships may have been displaced onto their children. The study findings support the use of cluster analysis in clinical research. Future research could focus on the specific intervention needs of these different types of families.

Psychology Department, University of Wyoming, Laramie, Wyoming

Address for reprints: William McKay, M.S., Department of Psychology, University of Wyoming, P.O. Box 3415, Room 135, Biological Sciences, Laramie, WY 82071-3415; e-mail:; fax: 307-766-2926.

© 2002 Lippincott Williams & Wilkins, Inc.