Time demands of caring for children with cerebral palsy: What are the implications for maternal mental health?

Michael G. Sawyer, Michael Bittman, Annette M. La Greca, Angela D. Crettenden, Nina Borojevic, Parimala Raghavendra, Ray Russo

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

49 Scopus citations


Aim: To examine the relationship between maternal mental health problems and the time required by mothers to care for children with cerebral palsy (CP). Method: Cross-sectional study of 158 mothers of children with cerebral palsy (98 males, 60 females; mean age 11y 3mo, range 6-17y). Gross Motor Function Classification System levels of the children were 37% level I, 20% level II, 9% level III, 12% level IV, and 22% level V. Manual Ability Classification System levels were 19% level I, 27% level II, 22% level III, 13% level IV, and 19% level V. Maternal mental health problems were assessed using the General Health Questionnaire. Depressive symptoms were assessed using the Center for Epidemiological Studies Depression Scale. A time-diary was used to measure caregiving time. Experience of time pressure was assessed using the Time Crunch Scale. Results: On average, mothers spent 6.0hours per 24hours on weekdays and 8.3hours per 24hours on weekends caring for children with CP. There was a significant positive relationship between maternal psychological problems and both caregiving time required per 24hours (p=0.03) and mothers' experience of time pressure (p<0.001). There was also a significant positive association between maternal depressive symptoms and experience of time pressure (p=0.003). Interpretation: It is important to support mothers to find ways of reducing the real and perceived impact of caregiving. This might include identifying sources of 'respite' support for caregivers, training in stress and time management, and appropriate treatment of mental health problems.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)338-343
Number of pages6
JournalDevelopmental Medicine and Child Neurology
Issue number4
StatePublished - Apr 2011

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Pediatrics, Perinatology, and Child Health
  • Developmental Neuroscience
  • Clinical Neurology

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