Family burden, child disability, and the adjustment of mothers caring for children with epilepsy: Role of social support and coping

Jeffrey M. Carlson, Paul Miller

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

7 Scopus citations

Abstract

Purpose This study was designed to contribute to the existing research on the coping behaviors, social support, and mental health outcomes in parents of children with epilepsy in the United States. Methods Participants included 152, predominantly Caucasian (89.5%), married (78.9%) women (95.4%). Via a web-based interface, mothers completed questionnaires assessing the impact of their child's disability on their family (i.e., severity of their child's disability, family burden, and personal stress), social resources (i.e., perceived social support), coping (i.e., emotion-focused and social support seeking), and adjustment (i.e., depression and anxiety). Results After controlling for demographic variables, mediational analysis revealed that mothers' perceptions of the severity of their child's disability were associated with decreased perceived social support, which was then related to higher reported levels of depression and anxiety. Similarly, low levels of perceived social support partially mediated the relation between family burden and depression, anxiety, and stress. Finally, mothers' perceptions of the severity of their children's disability and family burden were unrelated to their reports of emotion-focused or social support seeking coping. However, their use of emotion-focused and social support seeking behaviors was related to lower levels of depression. Conclusion Low levels of perceived social support may help to explain the mechanisms underlying the relation between mothers' perceptions of the severity of their child's disability and family burden on their mental health adjustment, such as depression and anxiety.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)168-173
Number of pages6
JournalEpilepsy and Behavior
Volume68
DOIs
StatePublished - Mar 1 2017

Keywords

  • Child epilepsy
  • Coping
  • Depression
  • Mothers
  • Social support
  • Stress

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Neurology
  • Clinical Neurology
  • Behavioral Neuroscience

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