Distress responses in a routine vaccination context: Relationships to early child school readiness and mental health.
Pillai Riddell, Rebecca
MetadataShow full item record
Social and emotional competencies, such as distress regulation, are established in early childhood and are critical for the development of children’s mental health and wellbeing. Routine vaccinations in primary care provide a unique opportunity to relate responses to a universal, relatively standardized, distress regulation paradigm (i.e., pain-related distress) to key developmental outcomes. The current study sought to examine distress regulation during routine vaccination in infancy and preschool as predictors of outcomes related to socioemotional competence in preschool. It was hypothesized that children with poorer distress regulation abilities post-vaccination would have lower socioemotional development. Furthermore, it was hypothesized that insensitive parenting would exacerbate this relationship for children with poor distress regulation abilities. As part of an ongoing longitudinal cohort, 172 parent–child dyads were videotaped during vaccinations in infancy and preschool, and subsequently participated in a full-day psychological assessment in a university lab. Videotapes were coded for child pre-needle distress (baseline distress), immediate post-needle pain-related distress reactivity (immediate distress reactivity), and pain-related distress regulation (distress regulation). Parent sensitivity during the preschool vaccination was also coded. Baseline distress prior to vaccination predicted greater externalizing problems and behavioral symptoms. Parent sensitivity did not moderate the association between any child distress behaviorsand socioemotional development indicators. Child distress behaviors prior to injection, regardless of parent behavior, during the vaccination context may provide valuable information to health care professionals about child socioemotional functioning in the behavioral and emotional domains.