A risk and resistance model of maternal psychological distress to autism: caregiver burden, uncertainty, and optimism

Zahava Wiener, Fordham University

Abstract

This study used a risk and resistance framework to explore the relationships between caregiver burden, uncertainty, optimism, and psychological distress in mothers of school-aged children with autism. It was anticipated that caregiver burden and uncertainty would serve as risk factors for psychological distress and that optimism would act as a resistance factor. Optimism was also expected to moderate the effects of uncertainty and caregiver burden on psychological distress.^ One hundred and nine mothers of children with autism were administered self-report measures of caregiver burden, uncertainty, optimism, and psychological distress. Mothers reported elevated levels of psychological distress and clinically significant levels of caregiver burden. Results of correlational analyses suggest that caregiver burden and uncertainty are risk factors for psychological distress and that optimism is a resistance factor. Results of a regression analysis indicated that caregiver burden and optimism predicted 36% of the variance in maternal psychological distress. Optimism did not moderate the effects of caregiver burden or uncertainty on psychological distress. Results suggest that mothers of children with autism may benefit from interventions targeted to reduce caregiver burden as a means of reducing psychological distress. ^

Subject Area

Psychology, Developmental|Psychology, Clinical

Recommended Citation

Zahava Wiener, "A risk and resistance model of maternal psychological distress to autism: caregiver burden, uncertainty, and optimism" (January 1, 2011). ETD Collection for Fordham University. Paper AAI3475199.
http://fordham.bepress.com/dissertations/AAI3475199

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