Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name

Master of Social Work


School of Social Work

First Reader/Committee Chair

McAllister, Carolyn


This qualitative study highlights caretaker stress and coping in mothers of children with complex medical needs in addition to developmental delays. Areas of stress were complex, affecting emotional health, careers, and even vacations. Burnout theory was utilized to address the increased stress levels in these mothers. However, this theory was supplemented with Stress and Coping theory after qualitative data analysis as there were other factors that allowed these mothers to persevere—in particular, a type of coping identified as “meaning-based coping,” where situations are positively re-appraised and ordinary events are imbued with positive meaning. The mothers expressed their desire for more support, particularly after the child’s birth or diagnosis, and at periods of transitions. An effective multicomponent hospital intervention was utilized in Canada with promising results. Nurses met with families in their home environment following initial hospital visits. Not only would a similar program be beneficial for all families, but it is also desired by maternal caregivers.