Maternal health and stress in families with a child who has multiple disabilities.

Maria Truesdale-Kennedy, Roy McConkey

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


    The presence of a disabled child is known to increase family stress and parental ill-health. However it unclear the extent to which support services can alleviate this. Families using two, short-break services – both residential and domiciliary - formed the study population (N=68). Measures were taken using standardised instruments of children’s development and maladaptive behaviours, parental stress, parental health and the supports that the families received from services, professionals and relatives and friends. Significant proportions of these service users were stressed and had high levels of psychiatric morbidity. The sole predictor of stress was parental ill-health which in turn was linked with children who had higher scores on motor skills and the presence of other disabled dependents in the family. Families who were most stressed or in poorer health received no greater amounts of support.The findings reinforced the complexity of disentangling the relationships between family needs and service supports. They also suggest that existing presumptions about more services reducing family stress are too simplistic. It is argued that the meaning of support for families needs to be critically reviewed along with an examination of the coping strategies used by families. This should result in better matching of support services to individual family needs
    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)143-152
    JournalChild Care in Practice
    Publication statusPublished (in print/issue) - 1 Jul 2001


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