Does arthritis influence perceived ability to fulfill a parenting role? Perceptions of mothers, fathers and grandparents

Patient Educ Couns. 1999 Jun;37(2):141-51. doi: 10.1016/s0738-3991(98)00136-0.


The presence of a painful, disabling chronic disease may have implications for perceived ability to fulfill a parenting role. The purpose of this research was to examine the realities of parenting from the perspectives of mothers, fathers and grandparents with arthritis using a combination of methods: a cross sectional survey and in-depth focus group discussions. There was consensus that pain, fatigue and restricted physical functioning combined to interfere with the parenting role. Overall, approximately 35% of the sample had experienced difficulties attributed to arthritis. A gender difference emerged with women reporting more difficulties in relation to caring for babies and toddlers, whereas men reported more problems as children grew older. Key themes concerned: physical limitations; practical and caring issues; social factors; emotional response; hereditary risks and safety issues. Perceived inability to fulfill parenting roles resulted in feelings of frustration, guilt, anger and depression. A number of positive outcomes were mentioned including children's increased awareness of the needs of others. Limitations of the methodological approach adopted are discussed.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Activities of Daily Living
  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Age Factors
  • Aged
  • Aged, 80 and over
  • Arthritis / psychology*
  • Attitude to Health*
  • Child
  • Child, Preschool
  • Cross-Sectional Studies
  • Disabled Persons / psychology*
  • Fathers / psychology*
  • Female
  • Focus Groups
  • Humans
  • Infant
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Mothers / psychology*
  • Parenting / psychology*
  • Role
  • Sex Factors
  • Surveys and Questionnaires