Parenting with a physical disability: A scoping review of assessment methods

Aust Occup Ther J. 2023 Apr;70(2):257-300. doi: 10.1111/1440-1630.12845. Epub 2022 Oct 26.


Introduction: Daily childcare can be challenging for parents with a physical disability who have young children. Occupational therapists are valuable facilitators to family participation. However, occupational therapists have reported significant gaps in knowledge when documenting the parenting role of parents with a physical disability in occupational therapy practice. This study explored and described the parenting assessment methods used with parents with a physical disability in the scientific literature.

Methods: A scoping review was conducted, and search results were reviewed by two separate reviewers. The search strategy was applied to five databases (Embase, CINAHL, MEDLINE, HaPI, PsycInfo). Numerical and thematic analyses were conducted.

Results: Four thousand one hundred fifty articles were screened, and 73 relevant scientific articles were included. Seventy-six assessment methods were identified, including 20 assessment instruments with few reported population-specific psychometric studies. Most assessments were conducted via interviews (n = 45), followed by questionnaires (n = 27), and only six were performance based. Parenting practices and experience were the two dimensions most assessed, with little attention given to parenting responsibility. Mothers with multiple sclerosis, spinal cord injury, rheumatoid arthritis, and cerebral palsy were the most assessed.

Conclusion: Further research is needed to develop specific, multidimensional, and validated parenting assessments for all parents with a physical disability, including performance-based assessments. Formal assessments should be conducted by professionals, including occupational therapists, who have the necessary training.

Keywords: assessment; occupational therapy; parenting with a disability; physical disability; scoping review.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Child
  • Child, Preschool
  • Disabled Persons*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Mothers
  • Occupational Therapy*
  • Parenting
  • Parents / education