Insight into mental illness and child maltreatment risk among mothers with major psychiatric disorders

M. Mullick, L. J. Miller, T. Jacobsen

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Objectives: This study examined the relationship between insight into mental illness and current child maltreatment risk among mothers who had a major psychiatric disorder and who had lost custody of a child because of abuse, neglect, or having placed the child at risk of harm. Specifically, a measure of insight was examined in relation to systematically observed parenting behaviors known to be correlated with past child maltreatment and in relation to a comprehensive clinical determination of risk. Methods: Forty-four mothers who had a major psychiatric disorder were independently rated for their insight into their illness, the quality of mother-child interaction, and the overall clinical risk of maltreatment. Results: Better insight into mental illness was associated with more sensitive mothering behavior and with lower assessed clinical risk of maltreatment. The association remained when mothers with current psychotic symptoms were excluded from the analyses. Better insight did not appear to be associated with past psychotic symptoms, maternal psychiatric diagnosis, or the mother's level of education. Conclusions: Insight into mental illness may function as a protective factor that influences the risk of child maltreatment in mothers with mental illness. Measures of insight could be usefully incorporated into comprehensive parenting assessments for mothers with psychiatric disorders.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)488-492
Number of pages5
JournalPsychiatric Services
Issue number4
StatePublished - 2001
Externally publishedYes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General Medicine


Dive into the research topics of 'Insight into mental illness and child maltreatment risk among mothers with major psychiatric disorders'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this