185113 An Exploratory Study of Role Strain and Social Support among Graduate Health Students with Children

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Euna M. August, MPH , Department of Community & Family Health, University of South Florida, College of Public Health, Tampa, FL
Cheryl Vamos, MPH , Department of Community & Family Health, University of South Florida, College of Public Health, Tampa, FL
Cara De la Cruz, MPH , Department of Community & Family Health, University of South Florida, College of Public Health, Tampa, FL
Teri Malo, MPH, CHES , Department of Community & Family Health, University of South Florida, College of Public Health, Tampa, FL
Rasheeta Chandler, PhD, ARNP, FNP-BC , Community and Family Health, College of Public Health, University of South Florida, Tampa, FL
Heather Clayton, MPH , Department of Community & Family Health, University of South Florida, College of Public Health, Tampa, FL
Background: Universities have experienced an increase in non-traditional students, who tend to be older, have children, and be married/divorced. Students who have multiple roles also experience multiple demands that may affect their wellness and academic achievement. Therefore, understanding this population is important for recruitment and retention. However, minimal research has been conducted. The purpose of this study is to understand the experiences of graduate health student parents in balancing their multiple roles.

Methods: This study was based on two theoretical frameworks symbolic interactionism and social support. Twelve semi-structured interviews were conducted with graduate health students who are parents of at least one child seven years old or younger.

Results: Participants identified multiple roles (e.g. parent, spouse, student, and role model) and prioritized the parent role. Lack of time, finances, childcare, and school support increased role strain, whereas social support from partner/spouse, family, and friends were essential in coping with responsibilities.

Conclusion: Universities should implement strategies to decrease role strain and facilitate support for these non-traditional students. The availability of low cost, high quality daycare services and family health insurance is critical in supporting graduate student parents in the achievement of their parenting responsibilities along with their academic requirements.

Learning Objectives:
Describe experiences of graduate health students with children Recognize strategies to support graduate health students with children

Keywords: Students, Education

Presenting author's disclosure statement:

Qualified on the content I am responsible for because: I served as the principal investigator on this study and was intimately involved in all aspects from the development of the study design to data collection to data analysis.
Any relevant financial relationships? No

I agree to comply with the American Public Health Association Conflict of Interest and Commercial Support Guidelines, and to disclose to the participants any off-label or experimental uses of a commercial product or service discussed in my presentation.