Date of Award

2012

Degree Type

Dissertation

Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)

Department

School of Education

Abstract

Attention-Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) is one of the most common childhood psychiatric disorders and is associated with a variety of difficult behaviors. In addition, parents of children with ADHD experience significantly greater parenting stress and psychological distress than parents of children without ADHD. However, social support is a beneficial coping tool associated with increased mental and physical well-being in those experiencing stress. Although many turn to family and friends for social support, people sometimes go outside of their immediate support network and seek support groups. In recent years, Internet support groups have become a popular alternative to face-to-face support groups. However, limited empirical research has been conducted to understand the impact these groups have on participants. This is especially true for groups that target parents of children with behavioral problems, such as ADHD. To address these gaps in the literature, this study examined characteristics of individuals who participate in Internet support groups for parents of children with ADHD as well as the impact participation in these groups has on parent functioning. Results indicated that the majority of parent support group participants were married, well educated, and from middle socioeconomic backgrounds. Level of participation in the Internet support group was not associated with degree of parenting stress or parental depressive symptoms in multiple regression analyses. Furthermore, social support received from the Internet

support group was largely unrelated to these outcomes, although one meaningful three-way interaction emerged. Findings from this study indicate that although parents report many positive experiences associated with their participation in an Internet support group, their level of participation is not necessarily related to their functioning. Additional research is needed to better understand potential benefits associated with participation in an Internet support group and the impact that social support received from these groups has on parent functioning.

Creative Commons License

Creative Commons License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 3.0 License.

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