Parents of children with cerebral palsy: a review of factors related to the process of adaptation

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Little is known about the way parents adapt to the situation when their child is diagnosed with cerebral palsy.


A literature search was performed to gain a deeper insight in the process of adaptation of parents with a child with cerebral palsy and on factors related to this process. The selected articles were examined with respect to (i) the type and purpose of the study, (ii) study sample, (iii) variables and instruments and (iv) results on adaptation and stress of the parents.


Twenty-two studies were found, which showed a large variety in research designs, instruments and populations. Despite methodological differences, it was possible to extract a number of factors related to resources of individual family members, the family unit as a whole and in the community, family appraisal and adaptive coping.


It is important to realize that parents' adaptation may change as a function of their child's development and changing stages of family life over time. Until now cross-sectional studies have dominated this area of research, but in order to understand the process of adaptation over time, longitudinal studies are needed.

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