Date of Award

Summer 8-11-2011

Degree Type

Dissertation

Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)

Department

Counseling and Psychological Services

First Advisor

Kristen Varjas, Psy.D.

Second Advisor

Jeff Ashby, Ph.D.

Third Advisor

Elizabeth Steed, Ph.D.

Fourth Advisor

Joanna White, Ed.D.

Abstract

Family quality of life (FQOL) refers to the degree to which families of individuals with disabilities are able to meet their basic needs, enjoy time together, and pursue leisure interests and activities (Park et al., 2003). Researchers have identified barriers that families of individuals with disabilities encounter as they pursue a life of quality including elevated parental stress (Hauser-Cram, Warfield, Shonkoff, & Kraus, 2001), low socioeconomic status (SES) (Park, Turnbull, & Turnbull, 2002) and inadequate social service support (Soresi, Nota, & Ferrari, 2007). This study utilized data collected from a sample of parents (N = 389) of children receiving special education services from preschool through fifth grade to determine parental stress levels, satisfaction with social service supports and FQOL. Instruments included a demographic questionnaire, Parental Stress Scale (PSS; Berry & Jones, 1995), Client Satisfaction Questionnaire-8 (CSQ-8; Larsen, Attkisson, Hargreaves, & Nguyen, 1979) and Family Quality of Life Survey (FQOLS; Turnbull et al., 2004). A MANCOVA analysis failed to reflect significant differences between parental stress levels and FQOL based on child disability type. Point biserial correlations did not reveal significant relationships between children’s free or reduced lunch (FRL) status, parental stress, satisfaction with social services, and FQOL. Initial linear regression analysis indicated that parental stress was a significant predictor of FQOL (p < .001) while satisfaction with social services approached significance (p = .057). However, a subsequent linear regression analysis that included the interaction between satisfaction with social services and parental stress failed to support a moderation effect between satisfaction with social services and parental stress in the prediction of FQOL (p = .142). The examination of parental stress and FQOL within a school-based setting was a unique contribution to the literature that focuses primarily on FQOL and families of children with disabilities within clinical, medical and mental health settings. Limitations of this study, future research directions, and implications for school-based mental health providers are presented.

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