Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name

Master of Social Work


School of Social Work

First Reader/Committee Chair

McAllister, Carolyn


Purpose: Chronic sorrow was assumed to be a common feeling experienced by parents of children with disabilities, and if not supported properly it would impede a parent’s ability to support their child through the treatment of a disability and other life stressors that come with a lifetime diagnosis. This research looked to see how family type, the child’s diagnosis, feelings of support expressed by the parent, societal stigma about disability, and coping abilities impacted the parents’ experiences of chronic sorrow and who is was most at risk of chronic sorrow.

Methods: Through a positivist research design, the researcher addressed the rate of occurrence of the experience of chronic sorrow by parents with children with disabilities. The researcher used the quantitative method of surveying parents to see the effects of family structures on the ways that parents cope with their experience of chronic sorrow. Sampling methods utilized a bivariate correlation of multiple interval ratio variables. The only significant correlation found was between ratings of chronic sorrow and distress of comparing the disabled child to their other non-disabled children.

Implications: This study addressed a variety of factors (both protective and risk factors) that social workers should be observant of in assessing parents of children with disabilities and their experiences with feelings of chronic sorrow. With this knowledge, social workers would then be better prepared to choose interventions that fit the family’s needs while considering the stress levels of those parents.