1. Lipman, Terri H. PhD, CRNP, FAAN
  2. Tiedje, Linda Beth PhD, RN, FAAN

Article Content

Ulph, F., Betts, P., Mulligan, J., & Stratford, R. J., (2004).Archives of Disease in Childhood,89, 17-21.


Is there a "short man syndrome"? Are short people Napoleonic? Are persons with short stature unlucky at love, less likely to obtain jobs, more likely to engage in risk-taking behaviors? These generalizations and others were examined in this study, the aim of which was to ascertain whether any psychosocial sequelae of short stature in childhood could be detected in young adulthood.


This prospective, longitudinal school-based study followed children until age 20 and compared psychosocial development of short healthy students to their average-stature classmates. There were 48 short children and 66 control subjects matched on numerous sociodemographic variables. The authors used the Adolescent to Adult Personality Functioning Assessment Tool (ADAP-FA) to measure social and interpersonal functioning in six areas: education and employment; love relationships; friendships; coping; social contacts; and negotiations. Critical behaviors related to drug taking, drinking, and violence were also assessed. The data were analyzed based on height at recruitment (ages 7 to 9 years) and as adults (18 to 20 years). The results showed that neither height at recruitment nor adult height was associated with personality functioning as measured by the ADAPFA. There was also no significant association between short stature in childhood or adulthood and risk-taking behaviors. Additionally, the authors found that short stature was not associated with compromised psychological or social adaptation.


The implications are twofold. Pediatric nurses must be aware of the possibility of teasing of short children and discuss this difficult issue with children and parents. Now we can teach parents that although we know short children are more likely than children of average stature to be the object of teasing, there are data that demonstrate that short youths adaptively cope, and no psychosocial impairments emerge in those with short stature.

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Comment by Terri H. Lipman