Caregiver stress and cultural identity in families of preschoolers with developmental delay and behavioral problems

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Introduction: Research on families of young children with developmental delay and disruptive behavior problems has failed to examine caregiver stress in the context of cultural factors. Methods: Families of 3-year-old children with developmental delay and behavior problems were recruited from Early Intervention sites. All caregivers in the current analysis (n = 147) were from immigrant and/or cultural minority backgrounds. Regarding income-to-needs, most families (57.8%) fell into the extreme poverty, poor, or low-income categories. Caregivers reported on their own experiences of acculturation and enculturation as well as their child's problems. Results: Path analyses revealed that higher caregiver acculturation was associated with less parenting-specific stress, and higher caregiver enculturation was associated with less caregiver general stress. Severity of child problems was associated with more parenting-specific stress and general stress. Exploratory analysis yielded significant differences in associations between acculturation, enculturation, and caregiver stress in Black/African American caregivers versus Hispanic White caregivers. Conclusion: Findings suggest that among cultural minority caregivers of young children with developmental and behavioral problems, acculturation and enculturation may influence caregiver stress. While the cross-sectional nature of the study precludes causal conclusions, clinicians should consider how cultural factors can be harnessed to strengthen caregiver resiliency and improve engagement in parenting interventions.





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