Good Intentions Gone Awry: Assessing Parental "Miscarried Helping" in Diabetes

Michael A. Harris, Holly Antal, Rhea Oelbaum, Lisa M. Buckloh, Neil H. White, Tim Wysocki

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

34 Scopus citations


"Miscarried helping" is a pattern of frustration and conflict surrounding diabetes management as caregivers escalate their efforts to ensure adequate self-care by their children. This paper describes the development of a new measure of this construct and preliminary assessment of its psychometric properties. The 15-item Helping for Health Inventory (HHI) was developed based on the theoretical concept of "miscarried helping." Parents of adolescents with poorly controlled diabetes (n = 40) who were enrolled in a behavioral intervention trial completed the HHI as part of a comprehensive assessment battery. Results confirmed adequate internal consistency (α = .81) and 3-month test-retest reliability (r = .74). The HHI correlated positively with parent-child conflict and parental nonsupport of treatment and inversely with youth and parent-reported adjustment to diabetes and youth-reported adherence to treatment. The HHI did not correlate significantly with the youths' metabolic control. This initial psychometric study on the HHI indicates that it is a reliable measure of "miscarried helping." In addition, this study represents the beginning of establishing the HHI as a valid measure and as an informative measure of the negative aspects of social support.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)393-403
Number of pages11
JournalFamilies, Systems and Health
Issue number4
StatePublished - Dec 1 2008


  • adolescents
  • diabetes
  • social support


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