Open Access Research article

Quality of life of parents raising children with pervasive developmental disorders

Atsurou Yamada1*, Misuzu Kato2, Miyoshi Suzuki3, Masako Suzuki1, Norio Watanabe1, Tatsuo Akechi1 and Toshi A Furukawa4

Author Affiliations

1 Department of Psychiatry and Cognitive-Behavioral Medicine, Nagoya City University Graduate School of Medical Sciences, Mizuho-cho, Nagoya, Mizuho-ku, Japan

2 Children’s Mental and Physical Development Center, 100 Aza Nakahara, Nakano–Cho, Toyohashi, Aichi, Japan

3 Iwanishi nursery school, 1-104 Kitahara Takashi-Cho, Toyohashi, Aichi, Japan

4 Department of Health Promotion and Human Behavior (Cognitive-Behavioral Medicine), Kyoto University Graduate School of Medicine/School of Public Health, Yoshida Konoe-cho, Kyoto, Sakyo-ku, Japan

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BMC Psychiatry 2012, 12:119  doi:10.1186/1471-244X-12-119

Published: 20 August 2012



It has been reported that parents of children with pervasive developmental disorders (PDDs) face higher levels of stress. The aims of the present study were; (i) to evaluate the quality of life (QOL) of parents caring for their children with PDDs, and (ii) to explore the correlates of their QOL.


A consecutive sample of parents of children with PDDs aged 6 to 15 were approached. The MOS 36-item Short-Form Health Survey (SF-36) was used to measure the QOL of the parents by eight subscales and two summary measures. Parents’ personality and marital relationships were assessed with the NEO Five Factor Inventory and the Intimate Bond Measure, respectively. We characterized the parents’ SF-36 profiles in comparison with the national normative scores and explored variables which correlated with their summary measures.


Participants were 147 mothers and 122 fathers of 158 children with PDDs. Mothers had significantly lower scores in the areas of Role Physical (RP) Social functioning (SF), General health perceptions (GH), Vitality (VT), Role emotional (RE) and Mental Health (MH) than those among the general female population. The maternal mental component summary (MCS) was also significantly lower, but maternal physical component summary (PCS) and paternal PCS and MCS scores were not lower. Maternal PCS and MCS scores were both significantly associated with the high Care and the low Control scores, but regarding fathers only the paternal PCS scores were significantly associated with the low Control scores. Maternal PCS and MCS and paternal MCS scores were significantly associated with the high Agreeableness scores and the low Neuroticism scores. Multiple regressions have shown that Neuroticism was significantly related to the low MCS scores of mothers and fathers. Next, Care was related to maternal high PCS, and Control was related to maternal low MCS and paternal low PCS.


The mothers of children with PDDs had lower QOL scores than those of the Japanese general population especially in mental domains. Impairment of the maternal QOL is significantly associated with the personality tendency of the parents and relationships with their partners.