Family reactions and coping strategies in response to the physically ill or handicapped child: a review

Soc Sci Med. 1983;17(14):913-31. doi: 10.1016/0277-9536(83)90218-6.


This article reviews a broad range of clinical and research material investigating the coping processes of individuals and families, particularly in response to a serious illness or handicapping condition in a child family member. The interactive effects of family and illness are established; then several theoretical, descriptive and empirical theories of coping are presented. Coping responses of family members and the family unit as a whole to minor illness, to chronic illness and handicapping conditions, to childhood cancer, and to death in childhood are all discussed. The article concludes with a discussion of the implications and benefits for the physician and other health care professionals in adopting a family-oriented treatment approach.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Adaptation, Psychological*
  • Attitude to Death
  • Chronic Disease
  • Disabled Persons / psychology*
  • Disease / psychology*
  • Family*
  • Health Services
  • Humans
  • Models, Psychological
  • Neoplasms / psychology