Get access

Psychological Well-Being and Social Support for Parents With Intellectual Disabilities: Risk Factors and Interventions


Laura Darbyshire, Psychology Learning Disabilities Service, Greenfields, Monyhull Hall Road, Birmingham B30 3QY, UK. Tel: +44 121 465 8779; E-mail:


Individuals with intellectual disabilities (ID) are more likely to be socially isolated and at risk of poor psychological well-being. The added pressure of becoming a parent may magnify these risks, which are highlighted in Sterling's “determinants of parenting” model. The authors reviewed psychological well-being and social support among parents with ID, addressing three aims that explore the importance of these two factors in their lives. The findings are discussed within the context of Sterling's model. A systematic search of electronic databases was carried out. Eight studies met the inclusion criteria and were reviewed, and the integrity and outcomes of the studies are discussed. Parents with ID experience poorer psychological well-being than the general parenting population and a relationship was found between psychological well-being and social support. Two of the intervention studies found evidence that by improving social support, psychological well-being was improved. The authors also observed that the relationship between social support and parenting ability was supported by findings of a positive relationship between satisfaction with social support and positive maternal reactions. Sterling's model was supported by the majority of the studies; however, a number of recommendations for further research are suggested to more fully explore the relationship between psychological well-being and social support.