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Title: Stress and health-related quality of life in mothers seeking a diagnosis of high-functioning autism for their child : a mixed methods investigation
Author: Mulimba, Ashlee A.
ISNI:       0000 0004 2742 9288
Awarding Body: University of the West of England, Bristol
Current Institution: University of the West of England, Bristol
Date of Award: 2013
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Objective: To investigate mothers’ experiences in raising a child with suspected high functioning autism or Asperger’s syndrome while trying to get a diagnosis for their child, specifically focusing on stress and health-related quality of life. Mothers who already have a diagnosis for their child acted as a comparison group. Method: A cross-sectional mixed methods approach was applied. The Parenting Stress Index Short Form (PSI/SF), the 12 Item Short-Form Health Survey (SF12) and a demographic questionnaire was administered to a convenience sample of 40 mothers in the experimental group and 44 in the comparison group, all of whom resided in the UK. Qualitative semi-structured interviews with a sample of 4 mothers in each group followed to expand on those findings; data was analysed using thematic analysis. Results: Although both groups displayed clinically high mean scores for all the PSI/SF subscales and overall stress, the experimental group displayed significantly higher scores in the Parenting Stress and Difficult Child subscales and overall stress scores. The experimental group scored significantly worse in the Mental Component Summary scores of the Health Survey than the comparison group, indicating poorer mental-health related quality of life. The interviews, which discussed mother’s experiences of raising their child, the diagnostic process and its implications, also supported the quantitative findings. Implications: This study highlights the health and mental health implications on the large population of mothers seeking diagnoses of autism for their children. This population group is largely neglected in the literature. This brings into focus areas where further in-depth research and development of support systems for this population would potentially benefit these parents, specifically in terms of health related quality of life and it supports the drive by the National Autistic Society for earlier diagnoses and more efficient diagnostic processes.
Supervisor: Not available Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (D.H.Psy.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available
Keywords: autism ; quality of life ; stress ; parents ; mixed methods ; systematic review ; diabetes ; motivational interviewing