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Title:Social support among mothers of infants who were hospitalized for an extended period from birth
Author(s):Flynn, Linda L.
Doctoral Committee Chair(s):McCollum, Jeanette A.
Department / Program:Education
Degree Granting Institution:University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign
Subject(s):Education, Early Childhood
Education, Special
Abstract:Since the mid-1970's advances in medical technology have influenced the population of infants currently receiving care in neonatal intensive care units. The survival rate of infants who are severely disabled or critically ill has increased. Consequently, the care of infants with special needs has become both more complex and broader in base. These new dimensions of health care present a challenge to hospital personnel and staff from early intervention programs.
It has become increasingly clear that the presence of a child with special needs in a family exacerbates the stress which may or may not already be existent in that family unit. Therefore, not only must there be an increasing commitment from professionals to serve infants but also to address the immediate and ongoing needs of the family. Support for the family's emotional, educational, and physical needs is emerging as an area of primary importance in both hospital and early intervention settings.
The present study was developed to explore the sources (formal and informal) and types (instrumental and emotional) of support which mothers perceive as important for their own family and also for other families who have an infant with special needs, both during the infant's hospitalization and once the child has returned home. Seventeen mothers completed a Q-sort process which allowed them to rank sixteen support items according to importance. Specific support items were combined to form categories of support. Results indicated that mothers perceived no difference in importance of sources of support between formal versus informal; no difference in types of support between emotional versus instrumental; no difference between support needs during the hospitalization of their infant versus the time at home; and no difference in mothers' perspective between families in general versus their particular family. Thus, from the results of this exploratory study, it appears plausible that within the first year of life for an infant who has been hospitalized for an extended period from birth, mothers may not differentiate types and sources of support in relation to time-frame and perspective taken. However, in the analysis of individual support items, mothers consistently ranked several items with high values: discussions with medical people, financial help from professional agencies, and information from professionals. From these results, implications for practitioners in early intervention are addressed. Recommendations for future research are described.
Issue Date:1990
Rights Information:Copyright 1990 Flynn, Linda L.
Date Available in IDEALS:2011-05-07
Identifier in Online Catalog:AAI9026180
OCLC Identifier:(UMI)AAI9026180

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