Purpose: To identify factors that influence American and Icelandic parents' health perceptions among families of infants or young children with asthma.
Design: A cross-sectional research design of 76 American families and 103 Icelandic families. Data were collected mainly in the Midwest of the United States (US) and in Iceland from August 1996 through January 2000.
Method: Parents in these two countries who had children aged 6 or younger with chronic asthma completed questionnaires regarding family demands, caregiving demands, family hardiness, sense of coherence, and health perceptions. Descriptive statistics, chi-square tests and t tests were compiled. Multiple regression analysis was used to test path models and for mediation.
Findings: American parents differed from their Icelandic counterparts in family hardiness. In both countries, significant differences were found in caregiving demands and health perceptions between mothers and fathers. Illness severity and caregiving demands affected health perceptions of both mothers and fathers. Sense of coherence mediated the relationship between family demands and parents' perceptions for both parents. For mothers only, family hardiness mediated the relationship between family demands and health perceptions.
Conclusions: The Resiliency Model of Family Stress, Adjustment, and Adaptation was useful for building knowledge on parents' health perceptions in two Western cultures for families of young children with asthma. Interventions emphasizing family and individual resiliency and strengths have the potential to affect parents' views of their children's health.