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Abstract Aim: To analyse mothers' self‐assessed quality of interaction with their children and their opinions about child difficulty with respect to socio‐economic status and subjective factors:
postnatal depression, social isolation, sense of coherence and locus of control. Methods and material: A comprehensive questionnaire was completed by 1039 mothers of 18‐mo‐old children participating in the baseline measurements of a Swedish multicentre study developing
and testing a new psychosocial model for the child health services. Results: All subjective factors, including the number of factors, showed significant associations with perceived interaction and difficultness. Effect sizes of subjective factors ranged from about 0.3 to 1 SD for interaction,
and from about 0.2 to 0.8 SD for difficultness. As for difficultness, effect sizes were larger for boys. There were no associations between high socio‐economic status and high‐quality interaction or low child difficultness: the few significant differences in fact favoured low‐status
children. Conclusion : The results provided some contradictory findings to the well‐known association between high socio‐economic status and favourable outcome. This result is of practical
relevance for interventions: supportive programmes cannot be limited to areas and families of low socio‐economic status. Positive effects may ensue if subjective factors like those studied here can be promoted among parents and children through the child health services.