The health and psychosocial functioning of caregivers of children with neurodevelopmental disorders

Disabil Rehabil. 2009;31(8):607-18. doi: 10.1080/09638280802242163.


Purpose: Children with neurodevelopmental disorders (Neuro) pose complex parenting challenges, particularly if the condition co-occurs with behaviour problems. Such challenges are likely to impact caregiver health and well-being. This study explores the extent to which caregivers of children with both Neuro and behaviour problems differ in their physical and psychosocial outcomes from caregivers of children with either condition or neither condition.

Method: The first wave of data collected in the National Longitudinal Survey of Children and Youth in Canada (1994) was used to identify four groups of caregivers of 4- to 11-year-old children: caregivers of children with a Neuro disorder and externalizing behaviour problems (Both; n = 414), caregivers of children with a Neuro disorder only (Neuro Only; n = 750), caregivers of children with an externalizing behaviour problem only (Ext Only; n = 1067), and caregivers of children with neither health condition (Neither; n = 7236).

Results: Caregivers in the Both group were least likely to report excellent or very good health, and more frequently reported chronic conditions such as asthma, arthritis, back problems, migraine headaches, and limitations in activities as compared to the Neither group. This group also exhibited higher depression scores, experienced more problematic family functioning and reported lower social support than the Neither group. Scores for caregivers in the Ext Only and Neuro Only groups tended to lie between the Both and Neither group scores and often did not differ from one another.

Conclusions: Caregivers of children with both neurodevelopmental disorders and behaviour problems exhibited a greater number of health and psychosocial problems. While addressing children's behaviour problems, health care professionals should also consider caregiver physical and psychosocial health, as this may also have an impact on children's well-being.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Activities of Daily Living
  • Adult
  • Arthritis / epidemiology
  • Asthma / epidemiology
  • Back Pain / epidemiology
  • Canada / epidemiology
  • Caregivers / psychology*
  • Child
  • Child Behavior Disorders / epidemiology
  • Child, Preschool
  • Depression / epidemiology
  • Developmental Disabilities / epidemiology*
  • Disabled Children
  • Family Relations
  • Female
  • Health Status*
  • Health Surveys
  • Humans
  • Longitudinal Studies
  • Male
  • Marriage
  • Mental Health
  • Migraine Disorders / epidemiology
  • Social Support