Family Adjustment to Stress Associated with a Limb-Deficient Child

PATRICIA M. MINNES, PHD*Kingston, Ontario


In order to extend understanding of the factors which influence adjustment to stress associated with a limb-deficient child, family perceptions of stress were studied in relation to internal and external family resources and in relation to characteristics of the disabled child. Information was gathered from a sample of parents of congenitally limb-deficient children at The Hugh MacMillan Medical Centre in Toronto and for comparison purposes from a sample of parents of mentally retarded children.

Parents were asked to complete: 1) Family Environment Scale (Form R-Moos & Moos, 1981), 2) Family Crisis Oriented Personal Evaluation Scale (F-COPES--McCubbin, Olson & Larsen, 1981), 3) Questionnaire on Resources and Stress (Short Form--Holroyd, 1982) and 4) Family Information Checklist.

Results of multivariate and univariate analyses of variance indicate that lower perceived stress associated with a disabled child was positively associated with high family cohesion, high expressiveness, low conflict, high independence, high spiritual resources and high social support. Levels of parental stress also were found to differ according to the type of disability and the socioeconomic status of the child's parents.

Implications of these findings for clinical practice will be discussed. Moreover, a brief description of current research with parents of children having acquired or congenital limb deficiencies will be described.

*Department of Psychology, Queen's University, Kingston, Ontario, K7L 3N6, Canada