When faced with stress, behavioral and psychological reactions occur to decrease the person's perception of the stress. Rearing a child with developmental delay is one such stressful event. The purpose of this investigation was to explore coping strategies of mothers who are rearing a child with developmental delay. Two hypotheses were generated; There will be no statistically significant differences in perceived coping strategy scores used by mothers with developmentally delayed children in a support group and those not in a support group, and there will be no statistically significant differences in perceived effectiveness of coping strategy scores used by mothers with developmentally delayed children in a support group and those not in a support group. Lazarus’ cognitive transactional theory of stress postulates that the perception of mental and physical health relates to the ways people evaluate and cope with the stresses of life and was used as a theoretical framework. Mothers were from Mississippi, between the ages of 16 and 40, and parenting a children with developmental delay secondary to cerebral palsy. Perceived use and perceived effectiveness scores were obtained using the Jalowiec Coping Scale and analyzed using t-test statistical analysis. There was no statistically significant difference in the use of total coping styles between the two groups of mothers (p = .573). However, when analyzing the coping styles separately, mothers in the support group used the confrontive, optimistic, supportant, and self reliant coping styles significantly more than mothers in the non-support group. Mothers in the non support group used the evasive and fatalistic styles style more. There was a iii significant difference in the total effectiveness of coping style scores between the two groups of mothers (p = .024). Mothers in the support group perceived the confrontive and supportant styles of coping to be more effective than did mothers in the non-support group. Themes identified by mothers who responded to the open ended question, "Is there anything else you you like to say about being a parent of a child with cerebral palsy?" were indicative of a more positive attitude by the mothers in the support group. Further research is needed to determine the effectiveness of support groups as an intervention for mothers of children with disabilities. Curricula in graduate schools of nursing should be evaluated to include a conceptual approach to family-centered nursing for the family with a developmental delayed child. Replicaton of this study with inclusion of hypotheses reflecting each of the eight subscales of the JCS is recommended.
Master of Science in Nursing (MSN)
Mary Patricia Curtis
Foster, Donna Salvo, "Coping Strategies of Mothers With Developmentally Delayed Children Who Attend a Support Group and Who Do Not Attend a Support Group" (1997). MSN Research Projects. 225.