Testing Respite Effect of Work on Stress Among Mothers of Children With Special Needs

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Cutler, Children, Youth, Family


Extant research is ambivalent about whether or not working outside the home provides mothers of children with special needs a buffer against the stressful effects of caregiving. The empirical evidence of a respite effect is based primarily on small, non-probability samples. The study reported here used a large nationally representative sample of families from the National Survey of American Families (NSAF) and analysis that addressed the biasing effects of simultaneity between the dependent variable (parent stress) and employment. Results produced are consistent with a caregiver-specific respite effect from work, at least among mother caregivers of older children who were not concerned that working will have negative effects on their child’s well-being and who worked regular shifts in higher level occupations.


DOI: 10.1007/s10834-011-9267-y