Mental health of parents having children with physical disabilities

Jen Wen Hung, Yee Hwa Wu, Yi Chien Chiang, Wen Chi Wu, Chao Hsing Yeh

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

15 Scopus citations


Background: Parents of children with disabilities play an essential role in the successful rehabilitation of their children. However, the high level of care required may affect the mental health of the parents and consequently contribute to an unfavorable rehabilitation outcome in their children. The aims of this study are to investigate the mental health of parents of children with physical disabilities and to elucidate the factors affecting parental mental health. Method: This was a cross-sectional study. Ninety-one parents of children with physical disabilities who visited the outpatient rehabilitation clinics of a tertiary hospital were invited to join the study. Data from the parents and children were recorded during face-to-face interviews. Parental- perceived stress was assessed using the simplified Parenting Stress Index (PSI/SF). Parental mental health was evaluated as the main outcome measure using the 12-item version of the Chinese Health Questionnaire (CHQ-12). Results: Forty parents (44%) were categorized as psychiatric cases on the CHQ. Child-related factors that negatively affected parental mental health were poor walking ability (p < 0.05), dependency on others to perform activities of daily life (ADL) (p < 0.01), and younger age (p < 0.05). Parent-related factors that negatively affected parental mental health were low income (p < 0.05), no religious beliefs (p < 0.01), high level of parental distress (p < 0.01), parent-child dysfunctional interaction (p < 0.01), and having difficult child (p < 0.05). The most significant predictor of overall parental mental health in multivariate analysis was found to be parental distress. Conclusions: Parents of children with physical disabilities were at risk of poor mental health. Perceived parental distress is the most important factor affecting parental mental health. Strategies to reduce parental stress should be developed to prevent deterioration of parental mental health.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)82-91
Number of pages10
JournalChang Gung Medical Journal
Issue number1
StatePublished - Jan 2010
Externally publishedYes


  • Children
  • Mental health
  • Parents
  • Physical disability

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Medicine(all)


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