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Families with disabled children: Stress and social networks in three samples

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Mothers and fathers of 125 handicapped/chronically ill children were compared with parents of 127 matched nondisabled children from three separate samples with respect to personal stress, marital satisfaction, and social network size and density. Only mothers of disabled children experienced higher levels of stress than comparison parents. No differences were found in marital satisfaction. Few group differences were found for social network variables, although mothers of handicapped children had higher-density networks than comparison mothers. A series of ANOVAs examined differences among the three types of families of handicapped children. Significant differences among the groups were found for social network but not family stress variables. The results are discussed in terms of general differences between families with and without a disabled child, and point to the need to identify patterns within different types of family systems in conducting future research in this area.

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Correspondence to Dr. Anne E. Kazak.

Additional information

Portions of this paper were presented to the annual meeting of the National Council on Family Relations, Family and Health Section, November 1985, Dallas. This research was supported, in part, by grants from the Temple University Biomedical Research Support Program and the Temple University Grant in Aid of Faculty Research. The author wishes to thank staff and participants from St. Christopher's Hospital for Children, Philadelphia, PA, The Children's Rehabilitation Center of the University of Virginia Medical Center, Charlottesville, VA, and The Woodhaven Center, Philadelphia, PA.

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Kazak, A.E. Families with disabled children: Stress and social networks in three samples. J Abnorm Child Psychol 15, 137–146 (1987).

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  • Social Network
  • Network Size
  • Family System
  • Marital Satisfaction
  • Stress Variable