• We examined the impact of child disability on psychological distress in mothers, by comparing scores on two indexes of psychological distress of 369 mothers of children with cystic fibrosis, cerebral palsy, myelodysplasia, or multiple physical handicaps, with those of 456 mothers from a randomly selected sample of families ("control" subjects). Mothers of disabled children scored significantly higher than control subjects on both indexes of psychological distress. This finding persisted when the mothers' education, family income, and racial composition were controlled for. Type of disability, ie, the diagnostic classification of the disabled children, was unrelated to the mother's level of psychological distress. In contrast, the disabled child's dependence on others in daily activities had a significant effect on both measures of psychological distress; the more dependent the child, the greater was the mother's distress.
(Am J Dis Child 1982;136:682-686)