What are the factors that influence parental stress when caring for a child with an intellectual disability? A critical literature review
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AbstractObjectives: This article critically reviewed empirical studies identifying factors that may influence parental stress when caring for a child with an intellectual disability. Understanding the factors influencing parental stress is important for several reasons, which include improving parental/child quality of life, supporting parental needs, and thus reducing potential economic burden in the long term. This review is also imperative for ensuring high quality research within this field. Methods: AMED, CINAHL Plus (EBSCOhost), EMBASE, Medline and PsycINFO were accessed to conduct a critical literature review. A total of 17 articles were reviewed. A bespoke quality assessment tool was developed to examine the susceptibility to bias for each of the included studies. Results: The review outlined a range of child, parent and socio-environmental factors that may influence parental stress. More specifically, factors associated with greater parental stress included child behavioral difficulties (e.g. challenging behavior), ineffective parental coping strategies (including avoidance and self-blame), and poor family environment (e.g. lack of cohesion amongst family members). These factors are critically discussed alongside contrasting evidence that was illuminated within this review. Conclusions: Parents of a child with an intellectual disability are not a homogenous group and are likely to show variability in the factors that affect their stress levels. Future clinical and research implications are proposed in light of the methodological limitations identified within the studies reviewed. For example, future research could investigate the bi-directional effects that occur between variables; how specific factors influence parental stress; and potential mediating/moderating factors of parenting stress.
Copyright © The British Society for Developmental Disabilities 2015.