The influence of stress and child factors on families with educable mentally retarded children: the mother's viewpoint

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Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University


Mothers in two-parent families of 43 EMR children aged 5 to 21 completed a mailed self-report booklet containing the Family Environment Scale, a family modification of the Edmond's Marital Conventionalization Scale, the Questionnaire on Resources and Stress Short-Form, the Family Inventory of Life Events and Changes, and a demographic questionnaire. The families were not on welfare.

Reliability estimates and intercorrelations among the 11 factors on the QRS supported elimination of Terminal Illness Stress, Financial Stress, Physical Limitations, and Preference for Institutional Care for this sample. The remaining 7 factors of the QRS, the FILE, Sex, and Age (10 predictors) were regressed on each of the 10 family psychosocial variables measured by the FES utilizing a stepwise procedure.

The influence of the aforementioned 10 selected stress and coping variables on 8 family psychosocial dimensions was presented; regressions of both independence and achievement orientation not significant. Two fully significant models of stress and coping were found: 69% of the variance in cohesion was predicted by family disharmony, dependency and management, and life span care; and 32% of the variance in organization was predicted by family disharmony and sex. Associations between specific predictor and criterion variables were reported. The correlation of the modi- fied version of the EMCS (a measure of social desirability) and both predictor and criterion variables was analyzed.

The results were discussed in reference to the use of the shortened QRS, stress/coping influences on the family environment, and the theoretical importance of denial-like processes in coping. Clinical and research implications were also presented.