Mothers and fathers do not accurately report each other’s psychopathology

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Randal G. Ross *
Sharon K. Hunter
Gary O. Zerbe
Kate Hanna
(*) Corresponding Author:
Randal G. Ross |


It is unclear whether information obtained from a one parent can be used to infer the other parent’s history of psychopathology. Two hundred and one parental dyads were asked to complete psychiatric interviews. Based on maternal report, non-participating husbands/ fathers had higher rates than participating fathers of psychiatric illness. For fathers who did participate, maternal report did not match direct interview of paternal psychopathology with sensitivities less than 0.40 and positive predictive values of 0.33 to 0.74. Psychopathology may be over-represented among fathers who do not participate in research. Mother report of paternal symptoms is not an effective proxy. Alternative methods need to be developed to: i) improve father participation or ii) identify psychiatric status in fathers who do not participate in research projects.

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