Parents of a child with a disability are at greater risk than other couples for having higher stress, adjustment difficulties, and lower marital quality. Respite care has been shown to reduce stress in parents of children with disabilities. This study focused on parents who have a child with Down syndrome and their reported marital quality and respite care received. One hundred and twelve couples, each consisting of a mother and a father who lived with their child with Down syndrome, completed questionnaires including the Revised Dyadic Adjustment Scale, Experience in Close Relationships Questionnaire, Daily Hassles and Uplifts Scale, and a respite questionnaire. Results were mixed. Respite care did not predict marital quality for either wives or husbands. However, respite hours was related to wife stress, which was in turn related to wife marital quality. Respite hours was also related to husband stress, which was related to husband marital quality. In addition, wife uplifts was directly related to wife marital quality and to husband marital quality. Husband uplifts was related to husband marital quality. While not directly predicting marital quality, respite care was indirectly related to increases in marital quality through stress. Therefore, it is important that respite care be accessible and provided to parents who have a child with Down syndrome. Recommendations for policy makers and researchers are offered.



College and Department

David O. McKay School of Education; Counseling Psychology and Special Education



Date Submitted


Document Type





respite care, marital quality, marital satisfaction, stress variables, Down syndrome