Mothers' experiences in caring for a child with attention deficit hyperactivity disorder


Mothers' Experiences Caring for a Child with Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder Purpose of Study: The purpose of this study was to investigate the lived experience of mothers of children with attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD). Design: A qualitative phenomenological research design was used for this study. Methods: Seven biological mothers of children diagnosed with ADHD were interviewed using open-ended questions and a demographic questionnaire. To meet inclusion criteria the participants were the child's biological mother, had no more than one child living in the home diagnosed with ADHD, and were able to understand and read English. Furthermore, the participant's child was diagnosed with ADHD at least one year prior to inclusion in the study, was enrolled in school, was not enrolled in emotionally or learning disabled classes for more than one hour per day, and was not diagnosed as having severe sensory loss, severe language delay, cerebral palsy, or psychosis. Data collection occurred at a location chosen by the participant that allowed for privacy and minimal distractions. Tape recorded, open-ended, interactive interviews were conducted with each participant and were transcribed. Data were classified and analyzed by frequency of occurrence and researcher judgement.

Results: The data analysis identified five emerging themes. The first theme was diligence in caregiving. This included increased maternal monitoring of the child to assure completion of daily tasks and assignments. The second theme was maternal buffering of the child and the community. Uncertainty was the third theme described. There existed uncertainty about the treatment of the ADHD and/or the uncertainty about the child's future. The fourth theme that emerged was the methods used by the mothers in managing the situation. There was a divergence in the methods used by the mothers. Attempts at managing the situation included seeking information and support, controlling the environment, wait and see and/or the use of withdrawal. The fifth and final theme experienced by some of the mothers was guilt. Some mothers expressed guilt in the belief that they caused the disorder. Others expressed guilt related to their treatment of the child prior to the diagnosis. Interrelationships between themes were described. Implications: This study examined the maternal experience in caring for a child with ADHD. Mothers of children with ADHD experience great stress and uncertainty in meeting and managing the daily care needs of their children. The social support needs were not being met for many of the mothers. The study demonstrated the need and importance of extensive education of all family members involved in the life of the child, including extended family members. Multimodal treatment such as parent training and counseling along with medication therapy was cited by mothers as being helpful. The implications for health care providers are to assure a comprehensive plan of care to devise strategies to meet the psychosocial, educational and medical management needs of these children and their families.


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Graduation Date





Wink, Diane


Master of Science (M.S.)


College of Health and Public Affairs






103 p.



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Masters Thesis (Open Access)




Dissertations, Academic -- Health and Public Affairs; Health and Public Affairs -- Dissertations, Academic

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