Parenting stress in caregivers of children with chronic physical condition-A meta-analysis

Stress Health. 2018 Apr;34(2):197-207. doi: 10.1002/smi.2780. Epub 2017 Aug 18.


On the basis of the parenting stress model we compared levels of parenting stress in families with and without a child with a chronic physical condition and analysed correlates of parenting stress in families with a child with a chronic condition. A systematic search through electronic databases identified 547 relevant studies that were included in a random-effects meta-analysis. Parents of children with a chronic condition showed small to moderate elevations of general parenting stress and stress related to the parent-child relationship in particular. They showed moderate to large elevations in health-related parenting stress. Parents of children with cancer, cerebral palsy, HIV infection or AIDS, and spina bifida showed the highest levels of parenting stress. Stress levels also varied by illness severity and duration, child age, parental gender and mental health, marital status, marital quality, and levels of perceived support. Behaviour problems of the child and low parental mental health were the strongest correlates of parenting stress. The present results assist with identifying parents at highest needs for interventions aimed at reducing parenting stress. These interventions should address the reduction of child behaviour problems, the promotion of parental mental health, the increase in marital quality and social support in general, and skills for dealing with stressors.

Keywords: meta-analysis; paediatric illness; parenting stress.

Publication types

  • Meta-Analysis
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Child
  • Child Behavior*
  • Chronic Disease / nursing*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Parent-Child Relations*
  • Parenting*
  • Problem Behavior*
  • Stress, Psychological*