Resilience in families living with a Type I diabetic child

by Mariska Coetzee

Institution: Nelson Mandela Metropolitan University
Department: Faculty of Health Sciences
Degree: MA
Year: 2007
Keywords: Diabetes in children  – South Africa; Diabetes  – Prevention; Stress (Psychology); Adjustment (Psychology)
Record ID: 1446268
Full text PDF: http://hdl.handle.net/10948/665


Type I diabetes has the ability to promote change in the family. In truth, although the child with diabetes is the diagnosed patient, the whole family has diabetes. While the challenges that families have to face are many, families seem to have the ability to “bounce back” (i.e., they have resilience). Research on the construct of resilience, and more specifically, family resilience has surged in recent times. However, South African research on family resilience is limited. This study aimed to explore and describe the factors that facilitate adjustment and adaptation in families that include a child living with Type I diabetes. The Resiliency Model of Stress, Adjustment and Adaptation, developed by McCubbin and McCubbin (2001) served as a framework to conceptualise the families’ adjustment and adaptation process. Non-probability purposive and snowball sampling techniques were employed. Sixteen families participated in this study, providing a total of 31 participants. Participants consisted of the caregivers of a family living with a child between the ages of four and 12 with Type I diabetes. The study was triangular in nature, with an exploratory, descriptive approach. A biographical questionnaire with an open-ended question was used in conjunction with seven other questionnaires to gather data. These questionnaires were: The Family Hardiness Index (FHI), the Family Time and Routine Index (FTRI), the Social Support Index (SSI), the Family Problem-Solving Communication (FPSC) Index, the Family Crises-Oriented Personal Evaluation Scales (F-COPES), the Relative and Friend Support Index, and the Family Attachment and Changeability Index 8 (FACI8). Descriptive statistics were used to describe the biographical information. Quantitative data were analysed by means of correlation and regression analysis, and a content analysis was conducted to analyse the qualitative data. The results of the quantitative analysis indicated three significant positive correlations with the FACI8. These variables were family hardiness (measured by the FHI), family problem-solving communication (measured by the FPSC), and family time and routines (measured by the FTRI). The results of the qualitative analysis revealed that social support, the caregivers’ acceptance of the condition, and spirituality and religion were the most important strength factors that contributed to the families’ adjustment and adaptation. Although the study had a small sample and many limitations, the study could be used as a stepping-stone for future research on resilience in families living with chronic medical conditions and will contribute to family resilience research in the South African context