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Forensic Psychiatry
Offspring outcomes when a parent experiences one or more major psychiatric disorder(s): a clinical review


We sought evidence on quantifiable offspring outcomes, including problems, needs and strengths, associated with their experience of major parental psychiatric disorder(s), focusing on schizophrenia, affective illnesses and personality disorder(s). We were motivated by the absence of any systematic exploration of the needs of offspring of parents in secure hospitals. Seven electronic databases were searched to identify systematic reviews of studies quantifying offspring outcomes when a parent, or parent surrogate, has major psychiatric disorder(s). Our search (updated in February 2018) identified seven high-quality reviews, which incorporated 291 unique papers, published in 1974–2017. The weight of evidence is of increased risk of poor offspring outcomes, including psychiatric disorder and/or behavioural, emotional, cognitive or social difficulties. No review explored child strengths. Potential moderators and mediators examined included aspects of parental disorder (eg, severity), parent and child gender and age, parenting behaviours, and family functioning. This clinical review is the first review of systematic reviews to focus on quantifiable offspring problems, needs or strengths when a parent has major psychiatric disorder(s). It narratively synthesises findings, emphasising the increased risk of offspring problems, while highlighting limits to what is known, especially the extent to which any increased risk of childhood problems endures and the extent to which aspects of parental disorder moderate offspring outcomes. The absence of the reviews’ consideration of child strengths and protective factors limits opportunity to enhance offspring resilience.

  • schizophrenia & psychotic disorders
  • depression & mood disorders
  • personality disorders

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