College of Science and Health Theses and Dissertations

Date of Award

Spring 6-11-2021

Degree Type


Degree Name

Master of Science (MS)



First Advisor

Susan Tran, PhD

Second Advisor

Jocelyn Smith Carter, PhD


Objectives: Individuals with Hypermobile Ehlers-Danlos Syndrome (hEDS), a genetic condition that impacts a person’s connective tissues, report a large number of physical symptoms including chronic pain, fatigue, gastrointestinal dysfunction, and joint dislocations. Research into the psychosocial outcomes of this condition remains insufficient, especially for pediatric patients. The present study aims to fill this research gap by examining the relationship between functional disability, social support, and mental health outcomes for individuals with pediatric hEDS. We hypothesize that increased functional disability will be associated with increased mental health challenges, specifically anxiety and depression. Furthermore, it is hypothesized that this relationship will be moderated by general social support such that higher levels of social support will mitigate the negative psychological impacts of functional disability. The influence of gender on experiences with pediatric hEDS is also explored. Methods: Thirty-four youth with pediatric hEDS recruited from a Midwest genetics clinic completed self-report questionnaires regarding their functional disability, perceived social support, and mental health. Results: Results demonstrate associations between functional disability and mental health and social support and mental health independently. Social support was not found to moderate the relationship between functional disability and mental health. Conclusions: Functional disability and social support each have a unique influence on the mental health of children with pediatric hEDS. Exploratory analyses into the influence of gender provide a groundwork for future studies.

SLP Collection


Included in

Psychology Commons