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Many parents of children with developmental disabilities, including autism spectrum disorders and attention deficit disorders, experience poor well-being and increased anxiety and depression. Very few interventions directly target parents’ needs. The peer-delivered HOPE Programme was designed to address this with six weekly group sessions focusing on self-management skills, including goal setting and expressing gratitude.
This pre-post study aimed to examine changes in anxiety, depression, well-being, hope and gratitude, and to explore associations between changes in anxiety and depression and changes in gratitude and hope. Validated measures of depression, anxiety, positive well-being, gratitude and hope were used. Parents of children with a range of developmental disabilities, most commonly autism spectrum disorders, were recruited.
Of 137 (86.9% female) recruited, 108 parents completed the course and post-course data. Parents’ depression, anxiety, well-being, gratitude and hope all significantly improved between baseline and post-course. Hope and gratitude correlated significantly with depression, anxiety and well-being. Baseline depression, baseline gratitude, post-course hope and gratitude explained 50% of the variance in post-course depression. Reduced work hours, and baseline and post-course hope and gratitude explained 40% of the variance in post-course well-being. Anxiety was not associated to hope nor gratitude at either time point.
This study provides initial support for feasibility and potential effect of the peer delivered self-management intervention on parental anxiety and depression. Changes in gratitude and hope account for some change in depression, but not anxiety. A randomised controlled trial is needed to establish efficacy and explore mechanisms of change in-depth.
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