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Arch Hellen Med, 32(3), May-June 2015, 318-327


Health-related quality of life in parents of children with intellectual disability

T.V. Kastanias, H.T. Douda, S.A. Batsiou, S.P. Tokmakidis
School of Physical Education and Sports Science, Democritus University of Thrace, Komotini, Greece

OBJECTIVE Special clinical characteristics and socio-psychological difficulties are observed in individuals with intellectual disability (ID) which may have a negative impact on the psychological and physical health of their parents. This study aimed to evaluate various aspects of health-related quality of life (HRQoL) in parents of children suffering from ID.

METHOD The sample consisted of 354 parents, aged 48.15±14.2 years, who had a child attending a special education school or institution. The instrument Health Survey SF-36 (scoring 0–100) was used to evaluate the physical and socio-psychological health of the parents.

RESULTS The SF-36 scoring revealed the following results: Physical functioning (PF): 74.35±23.77, role physical (RP): 75.81±37.04, physical pain (BP): 67.23±29.55, general health (GH): 62.47±22.13, vitality (VT): 57.66±20.75, social functioning (SF): 71.97±27.69, role emotional (RE): 68.27±39.77, and mental health (MH): 58.32±22.43. The internal consistency reliability measured by Cronbach's alpha was 0.903. The Kruskal-Wallis non-parametric analysis of variance and the Mann-Whitney U-test revealed no significant gender (father – mother) differences in health-related quality of life, but a significant negative impact of parental age on specific items, namely PF: U=11,088, RP: U=11,898, BP: U=11,070, GH: U=10,422, VT: U=12,042, and SF: U=12,078 (p≤0.007). The marital status of the parents was negatively associated with RP: U=11,898 (p=0.02) and RE: U=11,376 (p=0.004), and when an increase in the number of children was taken into consideration, analysis of variance also revealed a negative influence on PF: x2=51.665, BP: x2=16.485, SF: x2=19.301, RE: x2=30.670 (p=0.000), and MH: x2=6.840 (p=0.033). Parents with chronic illness recorded lower HRQoL, specifically RP: U=10,566, BP: U=5,652, VT: U=8,334, SF: U=9,414, PF: U=3,618 and GH: U=3,114 (p<0.001). The parental educational status positively affected PF: x2=21.446, BP: x2=6.201, GH: x2=13.827, VT: x2=10.292, SF: x2=17.114 and MH: x2=27.250 (p<0.05). In addition, a negative relationship was found between abnormal parental body mass index (BMI) and HRQoL, specifically PF: x2=28.137, RP: x2=11.348, BP: x2=25.325, GH: x2=70.140, VT: x2=41.868, MH: x2=20.897 (p<0.01).

CONCLUSIONS: Parents of children suffering from ID record low scores on HRQoL scales, indicating a poor level of physical and mental health.

Key words: Intellectual disability, Mental health, Physical health, Quality of life, SF-36.

© Archives of Hellenic Medicine