Swedish parents of children with Down's syndrome

Parental stress and sense of coherence in relation to employment rate and time spent in child care


G. Hedov, Unit of Clinical Genetics, Department of Genetics and Pathology, Rudbeck Laboratory, Uppsala University Hospital, S-751 85 Uppsala, Sweden. E-mail: gerth.hedov@genpat.uu.se


Becoming parents of a child with Down's syndrome (DS) challenges the adjustment ability in parenthood. Individuals with higher sense of coherence (SOC) are supposed to manage stressors better than those with lower SOC. The aims of this study were to investigate parental self-perceived stress, SOC, frequency of gainful employment and amount of time spent on child care in Swedish DS parents (165 parents; 86 mothers, 79 fathers) and to compare those with control parents of healthy children (169 parents; 87 mothers, 82 fathers). The mean age of the children was 4.7 years. Parents responded to questionnaires separately including Hymovich's Parent Perception Inventory as stress measurement and Antonovsky's short version of the Orientation to Life. No differences concerning total employment rate were observed, but the DS mothers were more often employed part-time than control mothers. The DS parents did not spend more time on child care than the control parents and they did not differ in mean SOC score, but the DS parents perceived greater stress. The differences in stress, particularly between the DS and control mothers, were related to time-demanding areas. Parents with high SOC scores experienced significantly less self-perceived stress.