FAMILY ORGANIZATION AND COHESION AND LOW-LEVEL LEAD EXPOSURE
RUTH, RICHARD IRA
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This study examined the relationship between family cohesion and organization and the development of psychological sequelae in children exposed to low levels of lead. The sample consisted of 19 families containing pairs of twins where one had a history of lead exposure and the other did not.;The hypotheses were that, in the better organized and more cohesive families, the sequelae in the lead-exposed children would be fewer and of lesser magnitude. In the less well organized and less cohesive families, the sequelae to lead exposure were predicted to be more and of greater magnitude.;The children were administered the Wechsler Intelligence Scale for Children-Revised (WISC-R) and the Bender-Gestalt Visual Motor Test. Their mothers were given the Cohesion and Organization subscales of the Moos Family Environment Scale. Differences between the psychological functioning of the two twins in each family, as measured on the WISC-R and Bender, were compared with the family functioning measures derived from the Moos scales.;The hypotheses were only partially supported. In the more cohesive families, as predicted, there was less difference between the twin siblings than there was in the less cohesive families. However, the differences consistently on several of the measures were in a direction opposite to that predicted--i.e., the lead-exposed children did worse, and not better, in the more cohesive families. No meaningful correlations with family organization were found.;Problematic aspects of the Moos scales--their possible sociocultural bias, and their inability to capture systemic family variables validly--were felt to help explain the unexpected results. Limited sample size and statistical and design weaknesses were felt to limit severely the generalizability of the study. It was concluded that the findings pointed toward a nexus between family factors and the development of psychological sequelae to low-level lead exposure, but that the delineation of the precise nature of this relationship would require further research.
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