Perceived social support and quality of life of parents of children with Autism
Background: When examining the incidence of autism, however, children should not be considered independent of their parents, as this collection of disorders also affects the life of their family members. Having a disabled child affects the relationships with the family and friends, and the social and work life of families. The quality of life of these families is discussed in terms of financial aspects, health, support of family members, values, occupation, family relations, and individual support dimensions of developmental disabilities. However, there are very limited studies on the relationship between perceived social support and quality of life of parents of children with autism, and none of these has been conducted in Turkey.
Aim: This study aimed to identify the perceived social support and quality of life of the parents of children with autism and to investigate the related factors.
Study Design: The sample of the study consists of 90 parents who accepted to join the research studies. The participants enrolled in the study included 90 biological parents (31 mothers; 59 fathers). Eighteen children had both mother and father participate (all participants subsequently will be referred to as “parents”).
Methods: This was a descriptive cross-sectional study. A sociodemographic form, the EUROHIS Quality of Life Scale (EUROHIS QOL-8) and the Multi-Dimensional Scale of Perceived Social Support (MSPSS) were used for data collection.
Results: The mean score on the EUROHIS QOL-8 was 26.17 ± 4.91 and that on the MSPSS was 51.06 ± 20.6. A statistically significant relationship was found between the EUROHIS QOL-8 and MSPSS scores (r = 0.524, P = 0.000). There were significant differences on the average score on the EUROHIS QOL-8 and MSPSS based on fathers’ job status.
Conclusion: Our results provide important insights into the family experiences of parents of children with autism, and may aid the development of appropriate interventions to further support them. Providing support and understanding families of children with autism and their experiences, nurses, doctors and health professionals can positively affect their health outcomes. Healthcare professionals should focus on determining the needs of families to accordingly plan and implement appropriate programs.
Keywords: Autism, perceived social support, quality of life, Turkish parents