Family Estrangement: Establishing a Prevalence Rate
Richard P. Conti

Family estrangement, a communication cut-off between family members, remains a neglected topic in the research literature.The purpose of the present study was to establish a prevalence rate of family estrangement, identify precipitating factors leading to estrangement, identify the relationshipsof the estranged relatives, determine the length of the estrangement, and determine the level of stress caused by the estrangement. Data concerning the above factorswere gathered from 354 undergraduate and graduate students. Overall, 154 participants (43.5%) reported experiencing an estrangement; 60 (39%, 16.9% of the entire sample) from 1 or more immediate family members (nuclear estrangement), 94 (61%, 26.6% of the entire sample)from extended family members (extended estrangement). The most frequently cited single causal factor leading to estrangement was a disagreement with the estranged relative in both nuclear and extended estrangements. Participants reporting a nuclear estrangement were estranged from fathers with the greatest frequency. Participants involved in extended estrangements were estranged from aunts and cousins with the greatest frequency. The mean length of estrangement in nuclear estrangements was 59.4 months; 52.8 months in extended estrangements. The level of distress reported by participants was greater in nuclear estrangements. Implications for clinical practice and future research are discussed.

Full Text: PDF     DOI: 10.15640/jpbs.v3n2a4