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Keywords:

  • asthma;
  • dyadic analysis;
  • family hardiness;
  • nursing

Aims.  This paper reports a study (a) to assess whether there are cultural and gender differences in parents’ general well-being, sense of coherence and perception of family hardiness when they have a young child with asthma; and (b) to examine the effects of parents’ sense of coherence and well-being on family hardiness.

Background.  Research on hardiness, a resilience factor that fosters adaptation over time, has been widely studied from an individual perspective, but less from the viewpoint of the family unit. In particular, no study was found that assessed how members of a couple interact to affect their family's hardiness. Consideration of this dyadic phenomenon may provide unique insight about how family members interact with each other faced with a challenge, such as the chronic illness of a child.

Methods.  A cross-sectional research design was used with a sample of 137 two-parent families [76 from Iceland and 61 from the United States of America (USA)]. Questionnaires measuring sense of coherence, parents’ well-being and family hardiness were used, and demographic data were also collected.

Results.  The most striking differences in well-being were between mothers and fathers. In addition to a lower average on the total score for the well-being scale, mothers had poorer scores than fathers on the subscales of depression, self-control, vitality, and general health. Family hardiness differed between countries. The regression indicated that the individual's sense of coherence, depression and positive well-being (all actor effects), as well as the partner's anxiety (partner effect) all contributed significantly to family hardiness, as did nationality.

Conclusion.  Focused interventions for families with young children with asthma should be developed to enable them to feel more confident in using their resources to meet their demands and increase parents’ general well-being and family adaptation. Research is needed to develop and test such interventions, particularly with diverse participant samples, encompassing not only a variety of ethnicities, but also a range of children's ages.