Date of Award

Summer 2014

Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)


Health Services Research

Committee Director

Gianluca De Leo

Committee Member

Linda K. Bennington

Committee Member

Cindy M. Little


The increasing prevalence of Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) has levied associated effects upon the quality of life (QOL) of mothers of children with ASD. These mothers are subjected to various influences upon their lives as a result of their role as caregivers to children with ASD. The purpose of this study was to assess the International Classification of Functioning, Disability and Health (ICF) Body Functions and Structures, Activities, Participation, Environmental, and Personal Factors associated with QOL among mothers of children with ASD.

English literate, inhabitants of the United States, mothers over the age of 18, of children with ASD were recruited through Internet sites. Forty-six percent of the respondents were between the ages of 35-44 years, n = 149. The children with ASD had an average age of 11.52 (SD 7.56) years. The web-based survey consisted of researcher-constructed questions for the ICF Body Functions and Structures, Activities, Participation, Environmental, and Personal Factors, with the WHOQOL-BREF assessment. Linear regression and multiple linear regression models were developed to describe the individual and combined effects of the ICF Factors upon the Physical Health, Psychological, Social Relationship, and Environmental QOL domains.

Significant ICF Factors contributing more than 20% of the variance in QOL were identified in the models. Factors associated with a decrease in QOL were found in the Body Functions and Structures Factors mother comorbid condition of arthritis on Physical Health QOL, the mother comorbid condition diabetes on Environmental QOL, and the Environmental Factor of children receiving physical therapy in the educational setting on Social Relationships QOL. Factors associated with an increase in QOL domains were found in the Body Functions and Structures Factor mother average sleep hours per night on Physical Health and Psychological QOL, the Participation Factor of change in relationship with significant other on Social Relationships QOL, and the Personal Factor household income above $100,000 on Environmental QOL.

Health policy recommendations are made to address QOL among mothers of children with ASD during healthcare visits for their children. Suggestions for the development of technology, support accommodations through community resources, and targeted education of healthcare providers are warranted intervention tactics.