CWRU researchers find what stresses parents with a chronically ill child

September 18, 2013

The extra demands on parents of chronically ill children cause stress that affects the whole family, according to a systematic review conducted by Case Western Reserve University researchers that also explored what factors in the child's care most contribute to the added strain.

The findings, reported in the August issue of the Journal of Pediatric Psychology article, "Parenting Stress Among Caregivers of Children With Chronic Illness: A Systematic Review," were based on an assessment of 96 peer-reviewed studies in 12 countries between 1980 and 2012.

Researchers examined studies, involving parents of children up to age 21 with asthma, cancer, , diabetes, epilepsy, juvenile and/or sickle cell disease.

While many studies have examined associated with specific illnesses, this was among the first to integrate those findings into a single report to provide a broad view of the issue and potential interventions, said Melissa Cousino, lead author and a graduate student in the Department of Psychological Sciences.

In addition to identifying common stress triggers, parents also need help coping with the strain, report Cousino and co-author Rebecca Hazen, psychologist and assistant professor from the Department of Pediatrics at the university.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 15 percent of U.S. families have a chronically ill child with special needs. The researchers found that the demands of care created greater stress than the severity or length of their child's illness.

In addition to usual parenting responsibilities, parents of chronically ill children deal with special needs such as doctor or therapy appointments, medical treatments, hospitalizations and school issues that can be overwhelming while trying to integrate the sick child's needs into the family routine.

Parents reported suffering added stress from watching their child in pain, and from worrying about the child's vulnerability and explaining the health problems to those outside the family.

Parenting stress can be intervened upon, the researchers said.

Hazen provided the following tips on reducing :

  • Be open to assistance from friends or family who may be able to help reduce some of the stress;
  • To decrease the demands on one parent, parents should find ways to share parenting and treatment responsibilities;
  • Let your child's doctor know if you think you may need help in managing the stress related to caring for a child with a chronic illness.

Explore further: Why parenting can never have a rule book

Related Stories

Why parenting can never have a rule book

September 3, 2013
Any parent will tell you that there is no simple recipe for raising a child. Being a parent means getting hefty doses of advice – often unsolicited – from others. But such advice often fails to consider a critical factor: ...

Maternal posttraumatic stress disorder associated with increased risk for child maltreatment

September 2, 2013
Posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD) in mothers appears to be associated with an increased risk for child maltreatment beyond that associated with maternal depression, according to a study published by JAMA Pediatrics.

The parenthood paradox: Certain parenting beliefs are detrimental to mothers' mental health

July 5, 2012
Does being an intense mother make women unhappy? According to a new study by Kathryn Rizzo and colleagues, from the University of Mary Washington in the US, women who believe in intensive parenting - i.e., that women are ...

New parenting program benefits ADHD children

May 24, 2013
A new program for treating the emotional health of mothers of children with ADHD has shown significant benefits for the children themselves, finds a new study by University of Maryland researchers. The program combines treatment ...

Parent induces guilt, child shows distress

March 23, 2013
The use of guilt-inducing parenting in daily parent-child interaction causes children distress still evident on the next day, emerges from the study Parents, teachers, and children's learning (LIGHT) carried out by Kaisa ...

Study reveals benefits of wishes on seriously ill children and their parents

September 10, 2013
New research has shown that schemes that grant children with a life threatening illness a special wish have a positive impact on their and their family's wellbeing.

Recommended for you

Researchers crack the smile, describing three types by muscle movement

July 27, 2017
The smile may be the most common and flexible expression, used to reveal some emotions, cover others and manage social interactions that have kept communities secure and organized for millennia.

Even babies can tell who's the boss, UW research says

July 27, 2017
The charismatic colleague, the natural leader, the life of the party - all are personal qualities that adults recognize instinctively. These socially dominant types, according to repeated studies, also tend to accomplish ...

Infants know what we like best, study finds

July 27, 2017
Behind the chubby cheeks and bright eyes of babies as young as 8 months lies the smoothly whirring mind of a social statistician, logging our every move and making odds on what a person is most likely to do next, suggests ...

Negativity, be gone—new online tool can retrain your brain

July 27, 2017
Anxiety and depression can have devastating effects on people's lives. In some cases, the mental disorders lead to isolation, poverty and poor physical health, things that often cascade to future generations.

Research aims to shape more precise treatments for depression in women

July 27, 2017
Among women in the United States, depression is at epidemic levels: Approximately 12 million women in the U.S. experience clinical depression each year, and more than 12 percent of women can expect to experience depression ...

Very preterm birth not associated with mood and anxiety disorders, new research finds

July 27, 2017
Do very-preterm or very-low-weight babies develop anxiety and mood disorders later in life? Julia Jaekel, assistant professor of child and family studies at the University of Tennessee, Knoxville, and Dieter Wolke, professor ...

0 comments

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.