Because of the physical and emotional demands of caring for their child, many mothers struggle with poor physical health and depression, she said.
The researchers hoped to reduce their distress by focusing intervention training on two areas: social (help-seeking) and personal (self-help) skills.
Researchers recruited mothers with children on life-sustaining devices from the pulmonary and gastroenterology clinics at a Midwestern children's hospital. The mothers were primarily Caucasian, had an average age of 41, and an annual family income of $41,000 to $80,000.
The women were divided into two groups: A test group received the special Resourcefulness intervention through in-person training and reminder cards about how to be resourceful. They also kept a journal about coping tips they learned and used with their families. For some, the journal also became a place to vent emotions.
The control group also kept journals, but did not receive the intervention training.
All participants received weekly phone calls from researchers to discuss their experiences. Participants also were given pre-study and post-study tests to measure and track physical and emotional changes during the four-week study.
The researchers were surprised and pleased to learn that 95 percent of the participants wrote in their journals 23 of the 28 days, and 91 percent completed all the testing.
The study is important, Toly said, because the children's medical conditions vary, as do a mother's needs. So no one-size-fits-all approach works. Mothers need a flexible program that matches their individual situations, she said.
For example, children on ventilators need 24-hour care to keep breathing tubes open. That can require a night nurse on watch or, if unavailable,
|Contact: Susan Griffith|
Case Western Reserve University