Assessing caregiver stress in a specialized pediatric population
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Parental quality of life and stress levels have been linked to family and child functioning and outcomes. Assessing stress levels in caregivers raising children with medical complexity can guide clinicians in providing appropriate and needed interventions. School attendance and medical technology dependence in children are factors that may impact parental functioning and stress levels. These specific factors have not been thoroughly examined in the literature. The current study used data collected from a pediatric clinic in a large, urban hospital. The parent questionnaire contained items assessing caregiver physical, emotional, social, and cognitive functioning; communication; and worry. Significant differences in parental stress levels were not found between children attending school and those not attending school. In addition, significant differences were not found between level of medical technology dependence and age of the child. However, a main effect of school attendance was found when examining the worry subscale on the measure of parental quality of life with those parents with children attending school reporting more worry than parents with children not attending school. This study contributes to the knowledge base surrounding parental stress in raising children with medical complexity and will assist those who work closely with this population to implement effective and necessary intervention.