Previous reports have indicated that raising a child with Gilles de la Tourette syndrome (GTS) could be considered a stressful experience. Thus our study aimed to assess the impact of perceived stress (i.e. parental cognitive perception of their child's disorder) and social support (number of people surrounding the subject providing support) on coping strategies—defined as processes of restoring balance between excessive demands and inadequate resources—of parents having a child with GTS.
Twenty-eight parents of 21 patients with GTS (aged 6 to 16 years) completed questionnaires on perceived stress (ALE Scale), social support (SSQ6), coping strategies (WCC-R) and anxiety–depression (HAD).
Principal component analysis showed a negative correlation between social support on one side and perceived stress and anxiety/depression on the other. Problem- and emotion-focused coping both correlated with social support, all of them being independent from perceived stress and anxiety/depression. Hierarchical ascendant classification showed three clusters of individuals in our parents' groups: i) those having high scores in perceived stress and anxiety–depression; ii) those having high scores in social support associated with low scores in perceived stress; iii) parents having lower than average scores on both problem- and emotion- focused coping and social support.
Our results reinforce the need for developing training programs for parents with GTS children to better understand and tolerate the disorder to decrease their stress.