Off-campus UNL users: To download campus access dissertations, please use the following link to log into our proxy server with your NU ID and password. When you are done browsing please remember to return to this page and log out.

Non-UNL users: Please talk to your librarian about requesting this dissertation through interlibrary loan.

The Stress-Buffering Effect of Receiving Social Support on Resilience in Families of Children with Medical Complexity

Taylor Roth, University of Nebraska - Lincoln


There are millions of United States families with children with special health care needs (CSHCN) who are at high risk for stress, depression, and negative health outcomes. It is imperative to understand their stress and identify how to promote resilience (i.e., positive outcomes despite negative events). Extant research has identified that receiving social support could mitigate the deleterious stress effects on CSHCN families, thus helping them increase resilience. However, the moderating roles of social support received from specific sources in the associations between particular stressors and family resilience have not been explored. Moreover, unique stressors and supports of particular health conditions within the CSHCN umbrella necessitate that individual groups be better understood. For example, families of children with medical complexity (CMC) have specific needs and stressors distinct from those of other CSHCN (e.g., those with Attention-Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder, Autism Spectrum Disorder, etc.). This study examines (a) how singular and combined sources of social support moderate the CMC family stress/family resilience association; and (b) how child age moderates the CMC family stress/family resilience association. Data came from 434 CMC children from the 2017 National Survey of Children’s Health (NSCH). These children were selected on the basis of being in the elementary school years (ages six to 11) and meeting the Maternal and Child Health Bureau criteria of “medically complexity” without comorbid conditions. Parents of these children answered questions about family stress, received social support, and resilience. Structural equation modeling demonstrated that received social support did not ameliorate the association between CMC family stress and family resilience. Support from close friends and family did not impact the association between family stress and family resilience, support from a place of worship intensified the negative effects of parenting stress on family resilience, and aggregate social support worsened the impact of coordination stress on family resilience. Child age did not moderate the stress/resilience association. These findings could inform targeted interventions for CMC families that promote resilience.

Subject Area

Developmental psychology|Clinical psychology|Individual & family studies

Recommended Citation

Roth, Taylor, "The Stress-Buffering Effect of Receiving Social Support on Resilience in Families of Children with Medical Complexity" (2022). ETD collection for University of Nebraska - Lincoln. AAI29167462.