Use this URL to cite or link to this record in EThOS:
Title: Exploring socioeconomic and psychological factors associated with stress and difficulties in families
Author: Attawar, A.
ISNI:       0000 0004 6496 1986
Awarding Body: University of Liverpool
Current Institution: University of Liverpool
Date of Award: 2017
Availability of Full Text:
Access from EThOS:
Access from Institution:
Previous research has highlighted that there is a strong relationship between economic inequality and poor health outcomes in affluent countries (Wilkinson & Pickett, 2006). In recent years, income inequality in the UK and the USA has increased significantly faster than most other high income countries (Dorling, 2015). Evidence is starting to emerge to document the impact of austerity measures and cuts to public services that have been implemented by the British government since 2010 (McGrath, Griffin, & Mundy, 2016). For example, self-reported mental health difficulties and food poverty have increased significantly over this time period, particularly amongst socioeconomically disadvantaged groups (Barr, Kinderman, & Whitehead, 2015; Loopstra et al., 2015). Furthermore, the Bank of England has predicted that economic trends partially related to 'Brexit' will mean that British households are to face a further drop in 'real term income' in 2017 (Merrick, 2017). The family stress model highlights the negative impact of economic hardship on stress and difficulties within families (Conger et al., 1992). Parental stress refers specifically to the psychological distress arising from demands within the parenting role (Deater-Deckard, Pickering, Dunn, & Golding, 1998). Chapter one of this thesis presents a literature review on the relationship between socioeconomic status (SES) and parental stress within disadvantaged families. The review found evidence to suggest that economic hardship, lower educational attainment and food insecurity were associated with greater parental stress. There was a lack of evidence to suggest a relationship between income and employment status and parental stress. The findings have implications for how SES is measured in research and clinical practice, for example, regarding the importance of considering parents' subjective experience of economic hardship as well as their income bracket. Chapter two presents an empirical study further exploring the relationship between SES, parental stress and psychological difficulties within a British population of parents. Furthermore, the role of 'trait mindfulness' is assessed as a potential protective factor in the relationship between SES, stress and family difficulties. There is a growing evidence base to suggest that mindfulness interventions may be useful in supporting parents who are experiencing difficulties (e.g. Coatsworth, Duncan, Greenberg, & Nix, 2010; Eames, Crane, Gold, & Pratt, 2015). Mindfulness is the practice of paying attention to the present moment, consciously and non-judgmentally (Kabat-Zinn, 1994). 'Trait mindfulness' has been described as one's inherent ability to be 'mindful' in everyday life (KabatZinn, 2003). Previous research suggests that trait mindfulness is a protective factor for psychological difficulties in parents of children with autism (Conner & White, 2014; Jones, Hastings, Totsika, Keane, & Rhule, 2014). To the author's knowledge, no prior research has studied the relevance of trait mindfulness in relation to parental socioeconomic background. The study did not find evidence to support the hypothesis that trait mindfulness moderated the relationship between SES and parental stress, depression, anxiety and child behavioural problems. When examining the variables individually, the study found that lower trait mindfulness predicted psychological problems in parents, but did not predict child behavioural problems. Furthermore, lower SES predicted child behavioural problems, but did not predict psychological problems in parents. The findings of the study suggest that trait mindfulness may be a protective factor for parents from diverse backgrounds. However, more research is needed to more fully investigate the role of trait mindfulness and other protective factors for socioeconomically disadvantaged families.
Supervisor: Eames, C. ; Daley, D. Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (D.Clin.Psy.) Qualification Level: Doctoral