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

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

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

29 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


  • 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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