Impact of long-term care of children assisted by technology on maternal health

J Dev Behav Pediatr. 1998 Aug;19(4):273-82. doi: 10.1097/00004703-199808000-00006.


This study examines the health outcomes of mothers of children assisted by technology and their associations with condition severity and family and social support. The 6-month postdischarge status of 65 mothers of children assisted by technology was compared with that of 54 mothers of children (matched for age and sex) hospitalized for acute illnesses. We measured maternal health, emotional well-being (Center for Epidemiologic Studies Depression Scale), severity of the child's condition, family functioning, social support, and sociodemographic data. Mothers in the study group reported impaired health related to pain, vitality, social functioning, and mental health and substantially more depressive symptoms than mothers in the control group (p < .001), with almost half having scores suggesting clinical depression. Family supportiveness and opportunities for recreational and cultural activities were significantly lower in families with children assisted by technology. After controlling for sociodemographic variables, high condition severity (p < .01), lack of family support (p = .05), low social support appraisal (p < .01), and high levels of receipt of social support (p < .01) were associated with more depressive symptoms of mothers in the study group. Six months after diagnosis or major hospitalization, the severity of the condition was highly associated with maternal emotional well-being, with family support and social support appraisal having moderate independent positive effects. The receipt of social support indicated need rather than support and was negatively associated with well-being. Discharge planning and support systems need to focus on both the child and the prevention of secondary social and psychological morbidity of caretakers.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Caregivers* / psychology
  • Caregivers* / statistics & numerical data
  • Case-Control Studies
  • Chi-Square Distribution
  • Child
  • Cross-Sectional Studies
  • Depression / epidemiology
  • Disabled Children / psychology*
  • Family Health*
  • Female
  • Health Status
  • Health Surveys
  • Home Nursing / psychology
  • Humans
  • Linear Models
  • Long-Term Care / psychology*
  • Male
  • Massachusetts / epidemiology
  • Mothers* / psychology
  • Mothers* / statistics & numerical data
  • Multivariate Analysis
  • Self-Help Devices / psychology*
  • Severity of Illness Index
  • Social Support