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Int J Rehabil Res. 1999 Jun;22(2):101-9.

Cohesion and parents' social relations in families with a child with disability or chronic illness.

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  • 1Department of Public Health Science and General Practice, University of Oulu, Finland.


We studied how a child's physical or intellectual disability or diabetes affected family cohesion, the parents' social life, work and leisure-time activities, and whether there was any association between the parents' social relations and family cohesion. The parents of 89 children aged 12-17 years returned a questionnaire and were interviewed by a social worker. Family cohesion increased in all the groups by an average of 27%. The effect was smallest in the families of children with diabetes, whereas in the families with intellectual or physical disability family cohesion increased from 6 to 13 times more often compared to the families of children with diabetes. The increased family cohesion was not associated with the change in the parents' social relationships, work, career or leisure-time activities; the importance of these activities did not decrease even though family cohesion increased. However, a child's chronic illness or disability affects the everyday life of the family, for instance 71% of the parents with diabetic children thought that the regularity of family life increased and about a half of the parents with physically or intellectually disabled children had to change their hobbies because of the child. In planning treatment and rehabilitation for a chronically ill or disabled child more attention should be paid to the whole family and its needs, not only to the child.

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