Examining self-efficacy, outcome expectancy beliefs, and coping strategies in helping parents cope with their child’s diagnosis of Autism Spectrum Disorder: A multi-methods study



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The number of children diagnosed with autism spectrum disorder (ASD) continues to increase exponentially and their parents experience more stress than parents of children with no psychological disorder. We hypothesize that as more children will be diagnosed with ASD, more parents will concomitantly undergo more stress. Parents will need to use more coping strategies to address their child’s condition alongside the burden of their own lives. The purpose of this study was to add to the existing knowledge base regarding how parents cope with their child’s diagnosis of ASD and the factors that influence parents’ coping behaviors. To accomplish this, a multi-methods study was conducted. This two-phase study was designed to obtain statistical quantitative results from a sample and then follow up with a few individuals to probe the quantitative results in more depth. Survey data was first collected from parents of children diagnosed with ASD to examine the relationship between coping self-efficacy, coping outcome expectancy beliefs, and coping strategies. Then, the qualitative phase was conducted to describe how parents cope with their child’s diagnosis of ASD.
Seventy four parents completed a demographic and background questionnaire, the coping self-efficacy, the outcome expectancy beliefs, and the Brief Cope questionnaires. Based on the results, six parents were selected for semi-structured interviews. Quantitative analysis indicated that there was no significant association between coping self-efficacy belief scores and coping strategy scores and there was no significant relation between coping outcome expectancy belief scores and coping strategy scores either. The qualitative analysis found seven themes that represent parents’ description of their coping strategies. Practical implications were drawn and recommendations were made for future research.