Social support mediates the relationship between dispositional gratitude and psychological distress in caregivers of autistic children

Brian Lovell*, Mark Wetherell

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract

Grateful caregivers report lower levels of psychological distress. Social support, engendered by gratitude and buffering against stress, might mediate this effect. Here we explored whether the protective psychological effect of dispositional gratitude might be mediated by increased social support. A sample of 126 caregivers of autistic children completed questionnaires assessing dispositional gratitude, social support and psychological distress. Gratitude inversely predicted psychological distress, as did social support after adjusting for gratitude. Gratitude positively predicted social support. Gratitude no longer predicted psychological distress after adjusting for social support. Indirect effects analysis revealed the gratitude-distress relationship occurred indirectly via social support. Grateful caregivers reported higher levels of social support, and this predicted lower psychological distress. Gratitude, relatively stable as a disposition, has a state component that is sensitive to change, and healthcare professionals might do well to recommend gratitude enhancing interventions for caregivers of autistic children.
Original languageEnglish
JournalPsychology, Health and Medicine
DOIs
Publication statusAccepted/In press - 19 Dec 2022

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