Parental reports of serious illness and disability among children aged 3-16 years from UK military families

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Background Prevalence rates of child illness accordingto parents have been found to vary greatly in thegeneral population, with even less known about childrenof military parents. Mothers are generally consideredmore informed about their children’s problems thanfathers. This paper aimed to establish the prevalence ofserious illness and disability among children from militaryfamilies, noting the difference between parental reports.Methods Male serving and ex-serving personnel withchildren aged 3–16 years were invited to take part in anonline questionnaire and telephone interview based ontheir child’s health. The mothers of their children wereinvited via post if the father gave permission to makecontact. Data were analysed using descriptive statisticsand Cohen’s kappa.Results 378 fathers and 383 mothers provided informationfor 610 children. The vast majority of parents didnot perceive their child to have a serious illness or disability;fathers reported problems in 7.7% of their children(respiratory conditions most common), whilemothers reported problems in 6.2% ( physical health problemsrated most prevalent). A moderate agreement wasfound between parent’s reports; kappa=0.51 ( p<0.001).Conclusions/implications The prevalence of seriousillnesses and disabilities is low among military childrenaccording to parent reports. Fathers were more likely todisclose a problem in their child, and these differenceswere visible in the type of problem reported also. Thisdisparity suggests mothers’ and fathers’ views shouldboth be considered when making decisions that involvethe child’s care, in addition to clinical diagnoses.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)255-258
JournalJournal of the Royal Army Medical Corps
Issue number4
Early online date1 Dec 2016
Publication statusPublished - Aug 2017


  • Military
  • Well being


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