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The impact on mothers of bringing up a child with intellectual disabilities: A cross-cultural study

McConkey, Roy; Truesdale-Kennedy, Maria; Chang, Mei-Ying; Jarrah, Samiha; Shukri, Raghda


Roy McConkey

Maria Truesdale-Kennedy

Mei-Ying Chang

Samiha Jarrah

Raghda Shukri


Background: Most research into the impact on mothers of having a child with an intellectual disability has been done in Western cultures. These mothers are at increased risk of stress, along with poorer health and weakened family relationships. Nurses are well placed to support these mothers.Objectives: (1) To describe across three different cultures—Irish, Taiwanese and Jordanian—the inter-relationships among three indicators of maternal well-being. (2) To identify the coping strategies of mothers and the professional and informal supports available to them. (3) To identify the variables that have a negative impact on maternal well-being and possible moderating influences on them.Design: A survey approach with three groups of self-selected mothers. Participants: The characteristics of the child determined the inclusion criteria; namely aged 5–18 years with a diagnosis of intellectual disability of such severity that the children attended special schools or centres. In each country, the special services within particular geographical areas were approached and all families known to them were given the opportunity to participate. In all 206 mothers agreed to participate.Methods: Mothers were interviewed individually at home or in the day centre attended by their child. They completed various rating scales of known reliability and validity. In addition they described in their own words, the impact the child had on their lives and how they coped.Results: In all three countries, mothers experienced poor mental health, increased levels of child-related stress and poorer family functioning which the qualitative data further illuminated. Their child’s behavior problems were a major factor in this. The impacts on mothers’ well-being were not alleviated by access to professional supports or use of coping strategies.Conclusions: Health professionals need to adopt family-centered approaches that embrace the support needs of mothers. Similar strategies would apply across all cultures although they must be responsive to individual need.


McConkey, R., Truesdale-Kennedy, M., Chang, M., Jarrah, S., & Shukri, R. (2008). The impact on mothers of bringing up a child with intellectual disabilities: A cross-cultural study. International Journal of Nursing Studies, 45(1), 65-74.

Journal Article Type Article
Acceptance Date Aug 6, 2006
Online Publication Date Oct 4, 2006
Publication Date 2008-01
Deposit Date Feb 19, 2019
Journal International Journal of Nursing Studies
Print ISSN 0020-7489
Publisher Elsevier
Peer Reviewed Peer Reviewed
Volume 45
Issue 1
Pages 65-74
Keywords Intellectual disability, Mothers, Culture, Stress, Well-being,
Public URL