The long-term effects of children's early-onset disability on marital relationships

Dev Med Child Neurol. 1996 Jul;38(7):567-77. doi: 10.1111/j.1469-8749.1996.tb12121.x.


To investigate the long-term effects of a child's chronic illness or severe physical or intellectual disability on parents and their marital relationship, the parents of 89 children, aged 14-17, years were interviewed. The parents returned a questionnaire and a social worker interviewed them. One-fifth of the respondents had experienced the child's disability as contributing positively to the marital relationship, 25% reported impairment in some areas of the marital relationship, while only 7% felt that they had drawn apart from each other. A higher level of occupational education, insecurity at onset, heavy daily demands for care of the child, unequal distribution of tasks between the spouses and a lack of time for leisure activities were found to be risk factors for impaired marital satisfaction. Adequate information, a realistic notion of the illness or disability and practical advice for everyday life seemed to be the protective factors for the marital relationship.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adaptation, Psychological*
  • Adolescent
  • Child
  • Chronic Disease
  • Developmental Disabilities / nursing
  • Diabetes Mellitus / nursing
  • Disabled Persons*
  • Female
  • Home Nursing / psychology
  • Humans
  • Intellectual Disability / nursing
  • Male
  • Marriage / psychology*
  • Parents / psychology*
  • Risk Factors
  • Stress, Psychological / psychology*
  • Surveys and Questionnaires
  • Workload