J Nurs Acad Soc.  1995 Dec;25(4):668-680.

Stress and Coping among Parents of Mentally Retarded Children in the Kyoung-in area


The purpose of this study was to contribute to family nursing for reducing stress and improving coping of the parents of mentally retarded children. Data were collected through self-reported questionnaires during a period of 2 months between November 1994 and January 1995 in the Kyoung-in area. The subjects consist of 180 parents (90 mothers and 90 fathers) of mentally retarded children attending schools for the handicapped and 186 parents(93 mothers and 93 fathers) of normal children. The levels of general stress and of parental role stress were measured with the General stress scale and the Parental role stress scale, respectively, while the Coping scale was adopted to measure the level of coping. The data were analyzed by using Chi-square test, Fisher's exact test, Repeated masured ANOVA, oneway ANOVA and Scheffe comparison test. The results were as follows; 1. The level of general stress was significantly higher in the mothers and the fathers of the mentally retarded than in the respective parents of the normal. Of the parents, the mothers experienced significantly greater level of general stress than the fathers did in both groups of the retarded and of the normal. 2. As for the parental role stress, the mothers and the fathers of the mentally retarded experienced significantly greater stress than respective parents of normal children did. In particular, the stress was significantly higher in the mothers than the fathers of these children in both groups. The difference in the levels of parental role stress experienced by mothers and by fathers was significantly bigger among those of the mentally retarded tnan among those of normal children. 3. No significant difference in the level of coping was observed between the mothers of both groups and the fathers of both groups. By contrast, the fathers revealed significantly greater scores in coping than the mothers in both groups. 4. General stress experienced by the fathers of the mentally retarded was different by health status, satisfaction with spouses, and the supports from their spouses. Health status, satisfaction with spouses, and monthly income influenced parental role stress experienced by those fathers. Their level of coping was associated with their satisfaction with spouses and family life. 5. Of the mothers of the mentally retarded, the level of general stress was different by their health status, while parental role stress was related to the satisfaction with their spouses and the child's age. The level of coping among the mothers was different by the supports from their spouses. The above findings indicate that those parents of the mentally retarded did not take more coping strategies than those of the normal did, despite greater stress experienced among themselves. Hence, nursing intervention for managing stress should be given to those parents including fathers of mentally retarded children. Mothers of the mentally retarded, in particular, should receive high priority in planning nursing care, since they experience greater levels of both general stress and parental role stress than their spouses, which is most likey due to primary responsibility in child rearing given to them at home.

MeSH Terms

Child Rearing
Disabled Persons
Family Nursing
Mentally Disabled Persons*
Nursing Care
Surveys and Questionnaires
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