Caregiver Adaptation Among Black and White Families of Individuals with Autism Spectrum Disorder and the Comparison of the Two Racial Groups
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To date, only two studies, both using the same sample at two different time points, have quantitatively examined outcomes in Black caregivers of individuals with autism spectrum disorder (ASD). This study examined family adaptational outcomes in Black and White caregivers of individuals with ASD using the double ABCX model of family adaptation to examine the impacts of stressors, the A in the model (e.g., autism symptom severity, general life demands), resources/supports, the B in the model (e.g., social support), and individual coping/stress appraisal styles, the C in the model (e.g., cognitive appraisal, religious coping) on caregiver positive and negative adaptation outcomes, the X in the model, (e.g., caregiver strain, benefit finding, family quality of life). Black and White caregivers were compared on adaptation outcomes at the family, dyadic, and individual level, including both positively valenced (e.g., benefit finding) and negatively valenced outcomes (e.g., depression, caregiver strain). Participants were Black (N = 24) and White (N = 32) primary caregivers of individuals with ASD. Racial differences were found for both the general and racial-specific factors in the ABCX model. White and Black caregivers reported moderate and equal levels of caregiver strain. However, Black caregivers reported greater levels of anxiety and depression and lower levels of life satisfaction. When adjusting for potential ABC covariates, racial differences in outcomes were no longer significant. That is, racial differences in outcomes could be explained by differences in the proximal elements represented by the ABC variables of the model (e.g., passive-avoidance coping, religious coping). Black caregivers reported higher levels of pile-up of demands, formal social support, threat appraisal, passive-avoidance coping, and positive and negative religious coping than White caregivers. Different factors were related to caregiver strain in the two racial groups. Conscientiousness was a protective factor against caregiver strain for Black caregivers, whereas greater use of passive-avoidance coping and threat appraisal, higher levels of neuroticism and barriers to care, and lower levels of satisfaction with services, parenting self-efficacy, and formal social support were explanatory factors for increased caregiver strain among White caregivers. These results are helpful in informing interventions and support the cultural adaptation of care as provided to Black caregivers of individuals with ASD.