Family stress, perceived social support and coping following the diagnosis of a child's congenital heart disease
Background. Congenital heart disease (CHD) is now estimated to be the second most prevalent chronic illness. A child's chronic illness may have effects that have pervasive consequences for family life. Recently, attention has focused on resiliency variables, especially social support and coping strategy, regulating the impact of stress. In the resiliency model of family stress, adjustment and adaptation, social support is viewed as one of the primary moderators or mediators between stress and well-being.
Aims. The purpose of this study was to explore the relationships of family stress, perceived social support, and coping and determine the resiliency factor associated with coping by families who have a child with chronic illness.
Design. In a secondary analysis of a large longitudinal study, the sample consisted of 92 families who had a child under age 12 who was newly diagnosed with CHD within the last 3–4 months.
Findings. Results from regression analysis revealed that perceived social support operated as a resiliency factor between family stress and both parental and family coping. Child and family characteristics appeared to be the important predictors of perceived social support and parental coping. Although perceived social support appeared to be an important predictor of parental and family coping, neither the moderating nor mediating model was supported in full but partial causal relations were confirmed.
Conclusions. Findings provided evidence for the theoretical and empirical significance of perceived social support as a predictor of family coping. Further, these findings suggest that perceived social support is a factor influencing the resiliency of relatively high-risk groups of families who have a child with chronic illness.