Social Support From Family and Friends as a Buffer of Low Spousal Support Among Mothers of Critically Ill Children: A Multilevel Modeling Approach

Christine Rini, Sharon Manne, Katherine DuHamel, Jane Austin, Jamie Ostroff, Farid Boulad, Susan K. Parsons, Richard Martini, Sharon E. Williams, Laura Mee, Sandra Griffin Bishop Sexson, William H. Redd

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

34 Scopus citations


Objective: To investigate whether social support from family and friends (family/friend support) attenuated ("buffered") adverse effects of having low spouse support (spousal support) among mothers of children undergoing hematopoietic stem cell transplantation (HSCT). Design: One hundred sixty-three married mothers who were their child's primary caregiver during treatment completed assessments during the child's hospitalization for HSCT and 3-, 6-, and 12-months post-HSCT. Measures: Family/friend support and spousal support were assessed during hospitalization. Maternal physical and mental health-related functioning (the main outcome measures) were assessed at all timepoints. Results: Multilevel modeling was used to analyze trajectories of maternal functioning. Findings indicated that mothers with low spousal support and low family/friend support demonstrated the worst functioning across all timepoints. Mothers with low spousal support and high family/friend support demonstrated significantly better functioning, supporting the hypothesized buffering effect. Their functioning compared to the functioning of mothers with high spousal support. Moreover, mothers with high family/friend support demonstrated trajectories of physical health-related functioning that were more stable than the trajectories of mothers with low family/friend support. Conclusion: These findings have clinical implications in addition to advancing knowledge of social support processes among couples coping with the shared stressor of a child's life-threatening illness and treatment.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)593-603
Number of pages11
JournalHealth Psychology
Issue number5
StatePublished - Sep 2008
Externally publishedYes


  • maternal adjustment
  • multilevel model
  • pediatric bone marrow transplant
  • pediatric hematopoietic stem cell transplant
  • social support

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Applied Psychology
  • Psychiatry and Mental health


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