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Coping Strategies among Caregivers of Children with Autism Spectrum Disorders: A Cluster Analysis

Authors: Noor Ismael, Lisa Mische Lawson, Murad Moqbel, Lauren Little
Abstract:Introduction/Background: The variability in coping strategies among caregivers of children with ASD may contribute to broader health outcomes; however, it is unclear if specific coping strategies are related to overall strain in this population. Therefore, this study identified groups of caregivers based on coping mechanisms and investigated differences in strain among groups. Materials &Methods: This study utilized a secondary data analysis, and included survey responses of 273 caregivers of children with ASD. Measures consisted of the COPE Inventory, and the Caregiver Strain Questionnaire. Data analyses consisted of cluster analysis to group caregiver coping strategies, and Analysis of Variance to compare the caregiver coping groups on strain level. Results: There were four distinct groups of caregivers of children with ASD with different coping styles: Social-Supported/ Planning, Spontaneous/ Reactive, Self-Supporting/ Reappraisal, and Religious/ Expressive. Caregivers in the Social-Supported/ Planning group demonstrated significantly higher levels than the remaining three groups in the use of the following coping strategies: planning, use of instrumental social support, and use of emotional social support, relative to the other three groups. Caregivers in group the Spontaneous/ Reactive group used less restraint and less suppression of competing activities relative to the other three groups. Caregivers in the Self-Supporting/ Reappraisal showed more acceptance, and positive reinterpretation and growth coping strategies. Caregivers in the Religious/ Expressive group demonstrated significantly higher levels of religious coping relative to the other three groups and utilized more venting of emotions strategies. Groups did not differ on strain level. Conclusion: This study showed that caregivers of children with ASD may utilize differential combinations of coping strategies. Future research should investigate differences between groups of caregivers based subjective strain.
Year: 2018
Month: July
Volume: 7
Issue: 3
Published on: 18-07-2018