Chinese Immigrant Mothers of Children with Developmental Disabilities: Stressors and Social Support

Original Article


This qualitative study examined Chinese immigrant mothers of children with developmental disabilities (DDs) about their experiences of stressors, social support, and traditional cultural beliefs in Canada. Fifteen mothers were recruited from Toronto through one community organization. One-on-one semi-structured in-depth interviews on mothers in Mandarin were used in private settings. A descriptive qualitative approach was applied (Sandelowski, Research in Nursing & Health, 23, 334–340, 2000, Research Nursing Health, 33(1), 77–84, 2010). Analyses were guided by House’s (1981) classification of social support (structural, instrumental, emotional, and perceptive). Mothers expressed challenges in accessing services for their children, such as limited financial resources, occupational unemployment, excessive paper work, long waiting times, language barriers, limited knowledge of social services, emotional strain, transportation difficulties, dispersed services, and feelings of “loss of face.” All mothers actively seek treatments for their children without traditional “reciprocity thought.” The findings provide a better understanding of Chinese immigrant mothers’ experiences raising children with DDs in Canada. Implications of the study are also discussed.


Chinese immigrant mothers Developmental disabilities Stress Social support Cultural beliefs 



Funding for the project was provided by Meighen Wright Maternal Child Health (formerly named Lillian Wright Postdoctoral Fellowship in Maternal-Child Health), Faculty of Health, York University. Dr. Nazilla Khanlou is an Associate Professor at York University and a postdoctoral supervisor of Dr. Chang Su.

Compliance with Ethical Standards

This study obtained ethical approval from a university’s Research Ethics Board in Toronto, Canada.

Conflict of Interest

The authors declare that they have no conflicts of interest.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media, LLC, part of Springer Nature 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Meighen Wright Postdoctoral Fellowship, Office of Women’s Health Research Chair in Mental Health, Faculty of HealthYork UniversityTorontoCanada
  2. 2.Women’s Health Research Chair in Mental Health, Lillian Wright Maternal Child Health Scholars Program, School of NursingYork UniversityTorontoCanada
  3. 3.Dalla Lana School of Public HealthUniversity of TorontoTorontoCanada
  4. 4.Office of Women’s Health Research Chair in Mental Health, Faculty of HealthYork UniversityTorontoCanada

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