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Disabil Rehabil. 2009;31(9):741-52.

The health and psychosocial functioning of caregivers of children with neurodevelopmental disorders.

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School of Social Work, McGill University, Montreal, Quebec, Canada.



Children with neurodevelopmental disorders (Neuro) pose complex parenting challenges, particularly if the condition co-occurs with behaviour problems. Such challenges are likely to impact caregiver health and well-being. This study explores the extent to which caregivers of children with both 'Neuro' and behaviour problems differ in their physical and psychosocial outcomes from caregivers of children with either condition or neither condition.


The first wave of data collected in the National Longitudinal Survey of Children and Youth in Canada (1994) was used to identify four groups of caregivers of 4 to 11-year-old children: caregivers of children with a 'Neuro' disorder and externalising behaviour problems (Both; n=414), caregivers of children with a 'Neuro' disorder only (Neuro Only; n=750), caregivers of children with an externalising behaviour problem only (Ext Only; n=1067), and caregivers of children with neither health condition (Neither; n=7236).


Caregivers in the 'Both' group were least likely to report excellent or very good health, and more frequently reported chronic conditions such as asthma, arthritis, back problems, migraine headaches, and limitations in activities as compared to the 'Neither' group. This group also exhibited higher depression scores, experienced more problematic family functioning, and reported lower social support than the 'Neither' group. Scores for caregivers in the 'Ext Only' and 'Neuro Only' groups tended to lie between the 'Both' and 'Neither' group scores and often did not differ from one another.


Caregivers of children with both neurodevelopmental disorders and behaviour problems exhibited a greater number of health and psychosocial problems. While addressing children's behaviour problems, health care professionals should also consider caregiver physical and psychosocial health as this may also have an impact on children's well-being.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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