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Failure to replicate a robust Down syndrome advantage for maternal well-being

Jess, M; Flynn, S; Bailey, T; Hastings, RP; Totsika, V; (2021) Failure to replicate a robust Down syndrome advantage for maternal well-being. Journal of Intellectual Disability Research 10.1111/jir.12808. (In press). Green open access

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Abstract

Background: Family members caring for children with intellectual disability (ID) routinely report heightened levels of psychological distress. However, families of children with Down syndrome typically report better outcomes (known as the Down syndrome advantage). We examined whether the Down syndrome advantage would be present for maternal psychological distress, impact of caregiving, life satisfaction and perceived positive impact of the child with ID when controlling for external variables. Methods: Mothers of children with Down syndrome (n = 111) and mothers of children with ID of mixed aetiologies (n = 196) completed measures about their own mental health, perceived impact of caregiving, life satisfaction and perceived positive impact of their child on themselves and the family unit. Results: A series of group comparisons revealed small to moderate differences supporting the presence of a putative Down syndrome advantage in relation to personal maternal well‐being outcomes. However, when child‐related characteristics and external variables were controlled, the Down syndrome advantage was no longer present, with reduced, small effect sizes observed for all maternal outcomes. Conclusions: Initial group differences in psychological distress and life satisfaction were largely associated with family poverty, indicating that the Down syndrome advantage may be less robust than previously thought. Future research should seek to move beyond examining the existence of the putative Down syndrome advantage and focus on how families of children with Down syndrome experience family life, including longitudinal research exploring responses to life cycle and transition challenges.

Type: Article
Title: Failure to replicate a robust Down syndrome advantage for maternal well-being
Location: England
Open access status: An open access version is available from UCL Discovery
DOI: 10.1111/jir.12808
Publisher version: https://doi.org/10.1111/jir.12808
Language: English
Additional information: This is an open access article under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution‐NonCommercial‐NoDerivs License, which permits use and distribution in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited, the use is non‐commercial and no modifications or adaptations are made. http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc-nd/4.0/
Keywords: Down syndrome, Down syndrome advantage, intellectual disability, mothers, psychological well-being
UCL classification: UCL
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > School of Life and Medical Sciences
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > School of Life and Medical Sciences > Faculty of Brain Sciences
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > School of Life and Medical Sciences > Faculty of Brain Sciences > Division of Psychiatry
URI: https://discovery.ucl.ac.uk/id/eprint/10118915
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