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Health, functionality, and social support in families with a child with a neurodevelopmental disorder – a pilot study

Authors Cavonius-Rintahaka D, Aho AL, Voutilainen A, Billstedt E, Gillberg C

Received 23 November 2018

Accepted for publication 27 February 2019

Published 8 May 2019 Volume 2019:15 Pages 1151—1161

DOI https://doi.org/10.2147/NDT.S195722

Checked for plagiarism Yes

Review by Single-blind

Peer reviewers approved by Dr Colin Mak

Peer reviewer comments 2

Editor who approved publication: Dr Roger Pinder


Diana Cavonius-Rintahaka,1,2 Anna Liisa Aho,3 Arja Voutilainen,2 Eva Billstedt,1 Christopher Gillberg1

1Gillberg Neuropsychiatry Centre, Institute of Neuroscience and Physiology, University of Gothenburg, Sahlgrenska Academy, Gothenburg, Sweden; 2Child Psychiatry, Neuropsychiatric Unit, Helsinki University Hospital (HUH), Helsinki, Finland; 3Faculty of Social Sciences, Nursing Science, University of Tampere, Tampere, Helsinki

Introduction: Several studies have reported that having a child with a neurodevelopmental disorder (NDD) increases parental stress and that parental psychosocial functioning influences child`s development and behavior. It is unclear how parents of children with NDD experience family functionality, family health and receive support and if there are differences between experiences of mothers and fathers.
Methods: Families with children referred to a neurocognitive unit were invited to the study. A modified version of the FAmily Functionality, HEalth, and Social support (FAFHES) questionnaire was used. Open-ended questions were also included.
Results: Parents rated their social support lower than their family functionality and family health. Family functionality correlated positively with family health. No significant differences were found between mothers’ and fathers’ experiences. A three-months test-retest using the FAFHES showed no significant change in ratings of family functionality, family health, and social support.
Conclusions: Family functionality was connected to family health in families with a child with NDD. Mothers and fathers experienced their family health, family functionality, and received social support in similar ways.

Keywords: parents, family health, family functionality, social support, neurodevelopmental disorders

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