Parental anxiety and children's attendance at emergency departments in relation to the child's birth order

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Abstract

The paper studied birth order differences in the frequency of children's visits to emergency departments as a function of parental anxious concern. Equal numbers of fathers and mothers of 203 boys and 148 girls aged about 2.3 years were interviewed in a pediatric clinic. The sample involved 168 firstborns and 183 later-born children. The results indicate that in cases of illness, firstborn boys were taken most frequently and later-born girls least often. In cases of injury, later-born boys were brought more often than firstborn boys. A content analysis of verbal reports concerning these visits confirms that inexperienced parents of firstborns were more anxious about their children's health than the experienced and calmer parents of later borns. Parental overconcern and protectiveness may predispose firstborns to perceive illness and painful situations as more stressful compared to later borns and to become more concerned about their physical welfare in general.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)123-129
Number of pages7
JournalJournal of Social Psychology
Volume123
Issue number1
DOIs
StatePublished - 1 Jan 1984
Externally publishedYes

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