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Characterizing the magnitude of the relation between self-reported childhood parentification and adult psychopathology: a meta-analysis


  • We extend our appreciation to the anonymous journal reviewers who provided useful comments and important suggestions on the original draft of this article.


Several decades of research have shown that people who experience parentification in childhood are at an increased risk of experiencing psychopathology in adulthood. A meta-analysis was conducted to examine the magnitude of the relation between self-reported parentification experienced in childhood and psychopathology evidenced in adulthood. Results from 12 nonoverlapping studies (N = 2,472), which were conducted between 1984 and 2010, revealed a small significant but reliable effect (r = .14; 95% confidence interval = .10 to .18). Moderator analyses were performed to explore possible explanations for the variance evidenced between parentification and psychopathology. Moderators that were examined include population factors, methodological factors, and type of psychopathology. The present findings indicate that four factors—types of psychopathology, type of sample, race, and parentification measure used—moderated the relation between parentification and psychopathology. The meta-analytic findings that emerged highlight the need for additional empirical research. Possible explanations and clinical implications of the findings and directions for future research are considered. © 2011 Wiley Periodicals, Inc. J Clin Psychol 67:1–16, 2011.

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