Author ORCID Identifier

Date of Award


Degree Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)



First Advisor

Regena Spratling

Second Advisor

Melissa Faulkner

Third Advisor

Mathew Gayman


Children with medical complexity (CMC) are a small but growing population with chronic, sometimes life-limiting health conditions and high health care utilization. Their parents experience social and financial hardships and describe care as demanding. Research examining parental mental health is limited. The purpose of this study was to examine relationships among family resources, social support, parents’ perceived workload to care for their CMC and their perceived ability to do the work, and how this impacts family burden and parental depressive symptoms.

A non-experimental, cross-sectional, correlational design was conducted in a national sample of 106 parent participants of CMC, recruited using social media. Pearson’s correlations and multiple regression was conducted to examine relationships among the major variables. Parent participants were largely white (84.9%) biological (91.5%) mothers (98.1%) ranging in age from 23 to 47 years. The majority were married/partnered (86.8%) and college educated (37.7%) with incomes of $50,000 or more (61.3%). Nearly 62% of parents reported clinically significant depressive symptoms.

Higher family resources were associated with less workload (r = - 0.47, p

In this largely homogeneous sample of parents with CMC, depressive symptoms were common, family burden was significant, and both were explained by inadequate resources and high workload. Results emphasize the importance of care coordination support for families, as well as universal screening for social support, family resources, and depressive symptoms.


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