Bridging the gap between child mental health need and professional service utilisation: Examining the influence of mothers’ parental attributions on professional help-seeking intentions

Vilas Sawrikar, Antonio Mendoza Diaz, Lucy Tully, David Hawes, Caroline Moul, Mark Dadds

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract

There is a significant gap between the need for child mental health services and use of these services by families. Parental attributions may play a role in this. This study examined whether mothers’ attributions about their child’s problems influence professional help-seeking intentions in a general sample of community mothers. Secondary analysis re-examined this hypothesis in a subgroup of mothers of children with clinically elevated mental health symptoms. Cross-sectional survey data were collected from mothers (N = 184) of children aged between 2 and 12 years recruited from the community. Mothers completed self-report questionnaires measuring parental attributions: child-responsible attributions and parental self-efficacy; professional help-seeking intentions; and psychosocial covariates: child mental health, mothers’ anxiety and depression, child age, gender, marital status, education, and professional help-seeking experience. Hierarchical regression modelling indicated that parental attributions explained professional help-seeking intentions after controlling for covariates in both the general sample (ΔF = 6.07; p = .003) and subgroup analysis (ΔF = 10.22, p = .000). Professional help-seeking intentions were positively associated with child-responsible attributions (β = .19, p = .002) but not parental self-efficacy (β = -.01, p = .865) in the general sample, while positively associated with child-responsible attributions (β = .20, p = .009) and negatively associated with parental self-efficacy (β = -.16, p = .034) in the subgroup analysis. Findings were independent of the presence of clinically elevated symptoms, problem type, and severity. Overall, the findings support models suggesting that parental attributions have a role in professional help-seeking for child mental health problems.
Original languageEnglish
JournalEuropean Child and Adolescent Psychiatry
Early online date19 Nov 2020
DOIs
Publication statusE-pub ahead of print - 19 Nov 2020

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