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Integrating Work and Family Responsibilities: Experiences of Fathers of Children with Special Health Care Needs



Fathers face increasing demands to engage with family responsibilities without changes to workplace expectations. Research about these changes at home and in the workplace for employed fathers of children with special health care needs (SHCN) is limited, leaving fathers without necessary workplace, family, and community resources to better integrate work and family.


An online survey collected data from 122 fathers who lived at least part-time with a child with SHCN under the age of 18 and were employed at least part-time. This study investigated the effects of workplace, family, and community resources on positive and negative work family and family work spillover.


Linear regression analyses revealed that access to workplace flexibility was positively correlated with negative work family spillover, and that use of workplace flexibility was positively correlated with negative family work spillover. Support from friends/neighbors was a significant predictor of negative family work and work family, and positive family work spillover.


The study’s findings illustrate that fathers of children with SHCN struggle to integrate work and family. Resources in the three micro systems of workplace, family, and community, are utilized by fathers to meet work and family demands. The study also highlights the positive spillover effects related to employment and family care for fathers of children with SHCN.

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Correspondence to Claudia Sellmaier.

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The author declares that she has no conflict of interest.

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Research involving human subjects: All procedures performed in studies involving human participants were in accordance with the ethical standards of the institutional and/or national research committee (Portland State University HSRRC Proposal # 143207) and with the 1964 Helsinki declaration and its later amendments or comparable ethical standards.

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Informed consent was obtained from all individual participants included in the study.

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Sellmaier, C. Integrating Work and Family Responsibilities: Experiences of Fathers of Children with Special Health Care Needs. J Child Fam Stud 28, 3022–3036 (2019).

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  • Fathers
  • Work family spillover
  • Children’s special health care need
  • Community