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Mothers have key role in family life for children with technology dependencies
Date:3/18/2009

CLEVELANDCreating a family life incorporating the care needs of a child dependent on technology is a daunting task. Much of this task seems to fall upon mothers to help everyone in the family adjust. However, mothers often need help of their own to cope with the challenges of raising these children, a research study from Case Western Reserve University has found.

"The family takes its cues from me," one mother told Valerie Toly, PhD, R.N., C.P.N.P., an Instructor of Nursing at the Frances Payne Bolton School of Nursing at Case Western Reserve University.

Toly's research with 103 mothers of children dependent upon technology, such as mechanical ventilators and feeding tubes, examines family functioning in the lives of children with medical challenges. She was interested in finding out why some families seem resilient in the face of technology dependence while others struggle. Little quantitative research has been done on this topic.

The researcher reports that the key defining factor in creating as normal of a family life as possible while still meeting a child's care needs, as well as family functioning, was the level of the mothers' depression. The more symptoms of depression a mother had, the poorer the family functioning and the less able she was to problem solve and make a normal life for her family, says Toly.

Toly conducted face-to-face interviews with mothers in their homes or during clinic visits. She found nearly 40 percent of the mothers studied had a level of depressive symptoms indicating a high risk for clinical depression, and 25 percent of those depressed mothers had a level of symptoms so severe that they required some resource support at the time of the interview.

The mothers were raising children who were between the ages of seven months and 16 years of age and who used from one to four technologies to survive. The majority of the children's medical needs originated from neuromuscular and respira
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Contact: Susan Griffith
susan.griffith@case.edu
216-368-1004
Case Western Reserve University
Source:Eurekalert

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