Resch, James A. (2011-08). Parents Raising Children with Disabilities: Predictors and Determinants of Wellbeing. Doctoral Dissertation.
Background: The purpose of the present study was to identify and evaluate possible determinants of wellbeing and psychological adjustment in parents raising children with disabilities. Two studies drawing from the same sample of participants were conducted. Method: One-hundred and forty parents raising children with disabilities participated in this investigation. Participants completed a survey consisting of basic demographic characteristics of the parent, child-disability characteristics, parent problem solving ability, access to information and resources, environmental/social supports, appraisals of threat and growth, and measures of life satisfaction and physical/mental health. The purpose of study one was to evaluate possible determinants of parent wellbeing using a contextual model. The purpose of study two was to identify factors that predict depression risk status for parents raising children with disabilities. Results: Study one used structural equation modeling to test a hypothesized contextual model of parent wellbeing. Results of study one indicated strong model fit. In addition, after controlling for the contribution of parent demographic variables, the largest contributors to parent wellbeing were parent problem solving ability, access to resources, environmental/social supports, and parent appraisals of threat. Child functional impairment was not significantly associated with parent wellbeing. Study two found that 19 percent of participants were at risk for depression. Moreover, using tests of mean differences and hierarchical logistic regression, study two found that parents at-risk for depression were significantly more likely to report physical health problems, ineffective problem solving abilities, lower family satisfaction, and more appraisals of threat compared to parents not at-risk for depression. These factors combined to predict significantly depression risk status with the at-risk group being identified with 83.3 percent accuracy. Conclusion: Implications related to the importance of resources and environmental/social supports, appraisals of threat and growth, and problem solving abilities on the overall wellbeing and emotional health of parents raising children with disabilities are discussed.