Socio-economic position, household composition, health status and indicators of the well-being of mothers of children with and without intellectual disabilities

J Intellect Disabil Res. 2006 Dec;50(Pt 12):862-73. doi: 10.1111/j.1365-2788.2006.00900.x.


Background: Many previous studies have reported that mothers of children with intellectual disabilities (IDs) are more likely to show signs of psychological distress and have lower well-being than mothers of 'typically developing' children. Our aim was to estimate the extent to which these differences may be accounted for by between-group differences in socio-economic position.

Methods: This study involved secondary analysis of happiness, self-esteem and self-efficacy variables in a nationally representative sample of 6954 British mothers with dependent children under the age of 17 years, 514 of whom were supporting a child with an ID.

Results: Mothers of children with IDs reported lower levels of happiness, self-esteem and self-efficacy than mothers of children without IDs. Statistically controlling for differences in socio-economic position, household composition and maternal characteristics fully accounted for the between-group differences in maternal happiness, and accounted for over 50% of the elevated risk for poorer self-esteem and self-efficacy.

Conclusions: A socially and statistically significant proportion of the increased risk of poorer well-being among mothers of children with IDs may be attributed to their increased risk of socio-economic disadvantage.

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Child
  • Child, Preschool
  • Cross-Sectional Studies
  • Disabled Children*
  • Family Characteristics*
  • Female
  • Health Status*
  • Humans
  • Infant
  • Intellectual Disability / epidemiology*
  • Male
  • Mothers / psychology*
  • Mothers / statistics & numerical data*
  • Prevalence
  • Quality of Life / psychology*
  • Self Concept
  • Socioeconomic Factors
  • Surveys and Questionnaires