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March 1981

Parental Loss in ChildhoodRelationship to Adult Psychiatric Impairment and Contact With Psychiatric Services

Author Affiliations

From the Social Psychiatry Unit, Institute of Psychiatry, London. Dr Tennant is a Research Fellow of the National Health and Medical Research Council of Australia and is now with the University of New South Wales Teaching Hospitals, Prince Henry Hospital, Little Bay, NSW, Australia.

Arch Gen Psychiatry. 1981;38(3):309-314. doi:10.1001/archpsyc.1981.01780280077009

• Both parental death in childhood and parent-child separations (from causes other than death) were assessed in a community survey of psychiatric disorder and in an equivalent sample of psychiatric outpatients from the same community. Symptomatic disorder (psychiatric caseness) and psychiatric illness behavior (patient status) were examined. Symptomatic disorder was defined by comparing community (unreferred) cases with noncases. Illness behavior was specified by comparing the psychiatric outpatients with the community cases. Parental death in childhood bore no relation to either symptomatic disorder in the community sample (psychiatric caseness) or to psychiatric illness behavior (patient status) in adult life. Parent-child separations similarly had no relation to adult symptomatic disorder but were significantly associated with psychiatric illness behavior.