An investigation into the parental stress levels of families who have children with severe developmental disabilities using residential short breaks: a contributing factor of its stress reduction impact
This study represents a unique collaboration between the National Health Service and the London Borough of Sutton’s social services. The focus and direction of this study was to examine and explore parental stress levels from a quantitative and qualitative perspective for those parents using residential respite care for their developmentally disabled child. The study sought to gain a better understanding of the influence that short breaks has on parents more specifically to gauge whether a reduction in parental stress is linked to the use of short breaks. Combinations of quantitative and qualitative techniques were used to provide a deeper and broader understanding of the research question. Semi-structured interviews were conducted by the researcher and information was analysed using interpretative phenomenological analysis (IPA). The Parenting Stress Index (short form questionnaire) provided psychometric estimates of parenting stress divided into subscales of parenting distress, parent child dysfunction, difficult child and total stress. Overall parents reported a significant reduction in parental stress when using residential short breaks which were validated by the psychometric measures. The limitations of the study are discussed and suggestions proposed for future research are highlighted.