Abstract: Social Support and Stress of Mothers of Children with and without Disability in Vietnam (Society for Social Work and Research 14th Annual Conference: Social Work Research: A WORLD OF POSSIBILITIES)

136P Social Support and Stress of Mothers of Children with and without Disability in Vietnam

Saturday, January 16, 2010
* noted as presenting author
So-Youn Park, MSW , New York University, Doctoral Student, New York, NY
Ian Dexter Ong, MSW, MPH , New York University, Doctoral Student, New York, NY
Background/Purpose: There are about one million children with disabilities living in Vietnam (Asia-Pacific Development Center on Disability, 2004). However, only 5% of children with disability received special education or treatment. This lack of public service imposes burdens and stress on primary caregivers, particularly on mothers. Despite the dire need of social support, negative attitudes toward disability associated with stigma and shame prevent families from seeking help. Previous studies have shown that social support plays an important role in mitigating maternal stress of children with disability. However, literature with Vietnamese population on this topic is limited. The aims of this study are 1) to examine whether mothers of children with disability would have a smaller structural and a lower level of functional social support than would mothers of children without disability; and 2) to identify predictors of stress that experienced by mothers of children with and without disability.

Methods: This study was conducted in Hue City, Vietnam. A total sample of 225 cases (106 mothers of children with cognitive delays (CD) and 119 mothers of children without CD) were included. The sampling methods consist of two stages. First, non-probability purposive sampling was used to select children with CD between the ages of three to seven years old. Second, non-probability quota sampling was used to select children without CD to match the number and gender of children with CD from the same kindergarten programs. Structural social support was measured with the Social Support Scale for Parents of Children with Developmental Disabilities (SSSPCD). The structure of social support in this study refers to the size of informal and professional support network. In addition to SSSPCD, mothers were asked to report types of social support with open-ended questionnaires. Their responses were coded into categories of functional social support. Data analysis included descriptive statistics, bivariate tests, and hierarchical multiple regression.

Results: Mothers of children with CD reported significantly higher levels of stress (M=49.3, SD=7.4) than did mothers of children without CD (M=42.3, SD=6.4) (t=7.58, p<.001). Mothers of children with CD had a smaller social networks and less functional support than did their counterparts. Among the five categories of functional social support identified (Material, Child-Directed, Family-Directed, Emotional, and Professional Work, after controlling for socio-demographic variables and child CD status, hierarchical regression revealed that Child-Directed (beta=-.20, p<.05), Family-Directed (beta=-.12, p<.05), and Professional Work (beta=-.14, p<.05) were significant predictors of maternal stress, whereas Material and Emotional support were not. When structural social support were added to the final model; yielded a significant change R2, and was also a significant predictor (beta =-.20, p<.05). The final model accounted for 39% of the variance in maternal stress.

Conclusion/Implications: These findings support the importance of social support to families of children with disability in Vietnam. Enhancing their informal and formal support systems can help decrease maternal stress by increasing special education services for children. Additionally, the implication for social policies and establishment of support programs can reduce stigmatization by increasing public's acceptance of children with disability.