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.