International Meeting for Autism Research (London, May 15-17, 2008): The relationship of religiosity, stress, depression, affect, and well-being in mothers of children with autism spectrum disorder

The relationship of religiosity, stress, depression, affect, and well-being in mothers of children with autism spectrum disorder

Saturday, May 17, 2008
Champagne Terrace/Bordeaux (Novotel London West)
9:30 AM
T. L. Whitman , University of Notre Dame, University of Notre Dame, Notre Dame, IN
N. Ekas , Psychology, University of Miami, Coral Gables, FL
Background: Studies have found that social support can act as a moderator of the relationship between autism symptom severity and maternal outcomes. However, limited studies have investigated religiosity as a possible moderator of these relationships.

Objectives: To investigate the direct relationship between religiosity and maternal outcomes. A second purpose is to explore the role of religiosity as a moderator of the relationship between autism symptom severity and maternal outcomes.

Methods: Participants consisted of 123 mothers with a child with autism spectrum disorder. Mothers completed the following questionnaires: Parenting Stress Index (PSI), Center for Epidemiological Studies Depression Scale (CES-D), Psychological Well-Being (Environmental Mastery, Purpose in Life, and Personal Growth scales), Positive and Negative Affect Scales (PANAS), Satisfaction with Life (SWL), Childhood Autism Rating Scale (CARS), and Multidimensional Measurement of Religiousness/Spirituality.

Results: Autism symptom severity significantly predicted maternal stress, depression, life satisfaction, negative affect, and purpose in life. Religiosity significantly predicted all maternal outcomes. Hierarchical regression analyses were conducted to determine which aspect of religiosity was a better predictor of maternal outcomes. Preliminary results show that frequency of religious involvement significantly predicted maternal stress. Religious beliefs significantly predicted maternal depression. Finally, spirituality significantly predicted positive affect, life satisfaction, environmental mastery, and purpose in life. Further analyses will be conducted to determine the role of religiosity as a moderator of the relationship between symptom severity and maternal outcomes.

Conclusions: Findings confirm that autism symptom severity and religiosity significantly predicted maternal outcomes. These preliminary results suggest that there is a complex relationship between these variables. Specifically, spirituality appears to be associated with positive outcomes such as life satisfaction, whereas religious beliefs and frequency are associated with negative outcomes such as stress and depression. These findings suggest that incorporating spirituality into daily living may be beneficial for families.

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