Experiences of Pediatric Parenting Stress and Family Support for Caregivers of Children with Special Health Care Needs or Developmental Disabilities
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Serving children with special health care needs (SHCN) or developmental disabilities (DD) and their families is an important public health issue (Healthy People, 2020). The prevalence of children with special health care needs or developmental disabilities is significant and increasing (Boyle et al., 2011). Caregivers of children with SHCN or DD and their families demand clinical and research attention given the potential range of health and well-being outcomes that are associated with their children’s developmental or medical complexity. The purpose of this dissertation study was to use a quantitative descriptive research design to examine the experiences of pediatric parenting stress and family support for a sample of caregivers of children representing diverse special health care needs or developmental disabilities. Data were collected at four agencies that provide a range of services to children with SHCN or DD and their families. The data for 167 caregiver participants were used for the preliminary and main statistical analyses. Statistical analyses including pearson product moment correlations, independent-samples t-tests, one-way analysis of variance (ANOVA) tests, internal consistency reliability analyses, and factor analyses. Present study findings revealed that (a) the Pediatric Inventory for Parents (PIP) and Family Support Scale (FSS) measures did not appear to be internally consistent for this study sample; (b) the existing PIP and FSS factor structures did not fit the present study data well; (c) the present study sample had higher levels of pediatric parenting stress and lower levels of family support overall as compared to previous study samples of caregivers for children with chronic conditions; (d) the current study sample’s experiences of pediatric parenting stress and family support differed significantly by several caregiver, child, and family correlates; and (e) the current study sample’s levels of pediatric parenting stress and family support had a positive, significant association. Study findings emphasized the potential roles of stress and support in the caregiving experiences for children with SHCN or DD. Recommendations for further study of this caregiving population and their families are discussed.