Effects of Benefit Finding, Social Support and Caregiving on Youth Adjustment in a Parental Illness Context
- 119 Downloads
Social support and benefit finding are two related processes that may protect youth from the adverse effects of caring for an ill parent. The primary purpose of this study was to test a mediational model proposal that benefit finding mediates the effects of social support and caregiving on youth adjustment in the context of parental illness. Given the dearth of research on benefit finding in the youth caregiving field, an additional aim was to further clarify the benefit finding construct in the parental illness context. A total of 428 Australian youth (mean age 12.77 years) who had a parent with a serious health problem completed a questionnaire. Exploration of the benefit finding construct showed that it was unidimensional, relevant to youth caregivers, unrelated to measured demographics, but highly linked to caregiving demands and engagement. Results from path modelling analysis supported the mediational model proposal that benefit finding mediates the effects of social support and caregiving on youth adjustment. While caregiving responsibilities in general has a detrimental effect on adjustment, a small counter-balancing indirect effect was detected via the role of increased benefit finding due to caregiving responsibilities. Most of the benefit finding research in youth has been conducted in the context of trauma, where parental support is a significant protective factor. This study makes an important contribution to understanding benefit finding and social support processes in the context of a chronic stressor where one of the usual sources (parents) of significant coping support is limited.
KeywordsParental illness Young caregivers Caregiving Social support Benefit finding Youth adjustment
This study was funded by the Australian Research Council (grant number DP0879595).
K.P.: designed and executed the study, and wrote sections of the paper. S.C.: analysed the data and wrote the results and parts of the discussion.
Compliance with Ethical Standards
Conflict of Interest
The authors declare that they have no conflict of interest.
All research procedures (including informed consent) were in accordance with the ethical standards of The University of Queensland’s ethical clearance research committee and with the 1964 Helsinki declaration and its later amendments.
- Australian Bureau of Statistics (2006). Census of Population and Housing: Socio-Economic Indexes for Areas (SEIFA: cat. no. 2033.0.55.001). http://www.abs.gov.au/AUSSTATS/abs@.nsf/allprimarymainfeatures/356A4186CCDDC4D1CA257B3B001AC22C. Accessed 29 Mar 2018.
- Australian Bureau of Statistics (2011). Australian Standard Classification of Cultural and Ethnic Groups (ASCCEG: cat. no.1249.0). http://www.abs.gov.au/AUSSTATS/abs@.nsf/allprimarymainfeatures/388FA150E28D57E2CA257FF1001E65F6. Accessed 29 Mar 2018.
- Barkmann, C., Romer, G., Watson, M., & Schulte-Markwort, M. (2007). Parental physical illness as a risk for psychosocial maladjustment in children and adolescents: epidemiological findings from a national survey in Germany. Psychosomatics, 48(6), 476–481. https://doi.org/10.1176/appi.psy.48.6.476.CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
- Bursnall, S., & Pakenham, K. I. (2013). Too small for your boots! Understanding the experience of children when parents acquire a neurological condition. In H. Muenchberger, E. Kendall & J. Wright (Eds.), Health and healing after traumatic brain injury: Understanding the power of family, friends, community and other support systems (pp. 87–100). Santa Barbara, CA: Praeger Press.Google Scholar
- Cheng, S. T., Mak, E. P. M., Fung, H. H., Kwok, T., Lee, D. T. F., & Lam, L. C. W. (2017). Benefit-finding and effect on caregiver depression: a double-blind randomized controlled trial. Journal of Consulting and Clinical Psychology, 85(5), 521–529. https://doi.org/10.1037/ccp0000176.CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
- Crawford, J. R., & Henry, J. D. (2004). The Positive and Negative Affect Schedule (PANAS): construct validity, measurement properties and normative data in a large non-clinical sample. British Journal of Clinical Psychology, 43(3), 245–265. https://doi.org/10.1348/0144665031752934.CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
- Helgeson, V. S., Lopez, L., & Mennella, C. (2009). Benefit finding among children and adolescence. In C. L. Park, S. C. Lechner, M. H. Antoni SpringerAmpamp; A. L. Stanton (Eds.), Medical illness and positive life change: can crisis lead to personal transformation? (pp. 65–86). Washington: APA.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
- Janoff-Bulman, R. (1992). Shattered assumptions: towards a new psychology of trauma. NY: Free Press.Google Scholar
- Janoff-Bulman, R., & Yopyk, D. J. (2004). Random outcomes and valued commitments: existential dilemmas and the paradox of meaning. In J. Greenberg, S. L. Koole & T. Pyszczynski (Eds.), Handbook of experimental existential psychology (pp. 122–138). New York: Guilford Press.Google Scholar
- Kilmer, R. P., Gil-Rivas, V., Griese, B., Hardy, S. J., Hafstad, G. S., & Alisic, E. (2014). Posttraumatic growth in children and youth: Clinical implications of an emerging research literature. American Journal of Orthopsychiatry, 84(5), 506–518. https://doi.org/10.1037/ort0000016.CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
- Lepore, S. J., & Kernan, W. D. (2009). Positive life change and the social context of illness: an expanded social-cognitive processing model. In C. L. Park, S. C. Lechner, M. H. Antoni SpringerAmpamp; A. L. Stanton (Eds.), Medical illness and positive life change: Can crisis lead to personal transformation? (pp. 139–152). Washington: APA.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
- Muris, P., Meesters, C., Eijkelenboom, A., & Vincken, M. (2004). The self-report version of the Strengths and Difficulties Questionnaire: its psychometric properties in 8 to 13-year-old non-clinical children. British Journal of Clinical Psychology, 43(4), 437–448. https://doi.org/10.1348/0144665042388982.CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
- Pakenham, K. I (2009). Children who care for their parents: the impact of disability on young lives. In: In C. A. Marshall, E. Kendall, M. Banks, R. M. S. Gover (Eds.) Disability: Insights from across fields and around the world. Vol II. Westport, CT: Praeger Press.Google Scholar
- Pakenham, K. I., & Bursnall, S. (2006). Relations between social support, appraisal and coping and both positive and negative outcomes for children of a parent with MS and comparisons with children of healthy parents. Clinical Rehabilitation, 20(8), 709–723. https://doi.org/10.1191/0269215506cre976oa.CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
- Pakenham, K. I., Bursnall, S., Chiu, J., Cannon, T., & Okochi, M. (2006). The psychosocial impact of caregiving on young people who have a parent with an illness or disability: comparisons between young caregivers and non-caregivers. Rehabilitation Psychology, 51(2), 113–126. https://doi.org/10.1037/0090-5522.214.171.124.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
- Pakenham, K. I., & Cox, S. (2008). Development of the Benefit Finding in Multiple Sclerosis (MS) Caregiving Scale: a longitudinal study of relations between benefit finding and adjustment. British Journal of Health Psychology, 13(4), 583–602. https://doi.org/10.1348/135910707X250848.CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
- Pakenham, K. I., & Cox, S. (2012). The nature of caregiving in children of a parent with multiple sclerosis from multiple sources and the associations between caregiving activities and youth adjustment overtime. Psychology and Health, 27(3), 324–346. https://doi.org/10.1080/08870446.2011.563853.CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
- Roy, B., Groholt, B., Heyerdahl, S., & Clench-Aas, J. (2006). Self-reported strengths and difficulties in a large Norwegian population 10–19 years: age and gender specific results of the extended SDQ-questionnaire. European Child and Adolescent Psychiatry, 15(4), 189–198.CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
- Rueger, S. Y., Malecki, C. K., Pyun, Y., Aycock, C., & Coyle, S. (2016). A meta-analytic review of the association between perceived social support and depression in childhood and adolescence. Psychological Bulletin, 142(10), 1017–1067. https://doi.org/10.1037/bul0000058.CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
- Sieh, D. S., Meijer, A. M., Oort, F. J., Visser-Meily, J. M. A., & Van der Leij, D. A. V. (2010). Problem behavior in children of chronically ill parents: a meta-analysis. Clinical Child and Family Psychology Review, 13(4), 384–397. https://doi.org/10.1007/s10567-010-0074-z.CrossRefPubMedPubMedCentralGoogle Scholar
- Tennen, H., & Affleck, G. (2002). Benefit-finding and benefit-reminding. In C. R. Snyder & S. J. Lopez (Eds.), Handbook of positive psychology (pp. 584–597). London: Oxford University Press.Google Scholar
- Thompson, R. A., Flood, M. F., & Goodvin, R. (2006). Social support and developmental psychopathology. In D. Cicchetti & D. J. Cohen (Eds.), Developmental psychopathology (2nd ed., pp. 1–37). New Jersey: Wiley.Google Scholar