Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

Mothers of children with autism benefit from peer-led intervention

Date:
July 21, 2014
Source:
Vanderbilt University Medical Center
Summary:
Peer-led interventions that target parental well-being can significantly reduce stress, depression and anxiety in mothers of children with disabilities, according to new findings. In a first-of-its-kind study, researchers examined two treatment programs in a large number of primary caregivers of a child with a disability. Participants in both groups experienced improvements in mental health, sleep and overall life satisfaction and showed less dysfunctional parent-child interactions.

Peer-led interventions that target parental well-being can significantly reduce stress, depression and anxiety in mothers of children with disabilities, according to new findings released in the journal Pediatrics.

Related Articles


In a first-of-its-kind study, researchers from Vanderbilt University examined two treatment programs in a large number of primary caregivers of a child with a disability. Participants in both groups experienced improvements in mental health, sleep and overall life satisfaction and showed less dysfunctional parent-child interactions.

"The well-being of this population is critically important because, compared to parents of typically developing children, parents of children with developmental disabilities experience substantially higher levels of stress, anxiety and depression, and as they age, physical and medical problems," said lead author Elisabeth Dykens, Ph.D., Annette Schaffer Eskind Professor and director of the Vanderbilt Kennedy Center for Research on Human Development and professor of Psychology and Human Development, Pediatrics and Psychiatry. "Add to this the high prevalence of developmental disabilities -- about one in five children -- and the fact that most adult children with intellectual disabilities remain at home with aging parents, we have a looming public health problem on our hands."

Nearly 250 mothers of children with autism or other disabilities were randomized into one of two programs: Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction (MBSR) and Positive Adult Development (PAD). The MBSR approach is more physical, emphasizing breathing exercises, deep belly breathing, meditation and gentle movement. The PAD approach is more cognitive and uses exercises such as practicing gratitude.

Supervised peer mentors, all mothers of children with disabilities, received four months of training on the intervention curriculum, the role of a mentor and research ethics. The peer mentors led six weeks of group treatments in 1.5-hour weekly sessions with the research participants.

At baseline, 85 percent of participants had significantly elevated stress, 48 percent were clinically depressed and 41 percent had anxiety disorders.

Both the MBSR and PAD treatments led to significant reductions in stress, depression and anxiety and improved sleep and life satisfaction among participants, and mothers in both treatments also showed fewer dysfunctional parent-child interactions. While mothers in the MBSR treatment saw the greatest improvements, participants in both treatments continued to improve during follow-up, and improvements in other areas were sustained up to six months after treatment.

"Our research and findings from other labs indicate that many mothers of children with disabilities have a blunted cortisol response, indicative of chronic stress," Dykens said. "Compared to mothers in control groups, this population mounts a poorer antibody response to influenza vaccinations, suggesting a reduced ability to fight both bacterial and viral infections. They also have shorter telomeres, associated with an advanced cellular aging process, and have poorer sleep quality, which can have deleterious health effects. All of this results in parents who are less available to manage their child's special needs or challenging behaviors."

Dykens conducted this research with Vanderbilt's Julie Lounds Taylor, Ph.D., assistant professor of Pediatrics and Special Education and Vanderbilt Kennedy Center investigator, and former Vanderbilt Kennedy Center post-doctoral fellows Marisa Fisher, Ph.D. and Nancy Miodrag, Ph.D.

Forthcoming research will examine how fathers faired in the interventions and the health status and medical conditions in mothers. Dykens and colleagues will also look at the differences in civilian versus military parents of children with developmental disabilities.


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by Vanderbilt University Medical Center. The original article was written by Jennifer Wetzel. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Journal Reference:

  1. E. M. Dykens, M. H. Fisher, J. L. Taylor, W. Lambert, N. Miodrag. Reducing Distress in Mothers of Children With Autism and Other Disabilities: A Randomized Trial. PEDIATRICS, 2014; 134 (2): e454 DOI: 10.1542/peds.2013-3164

Cite This Page:

Vanderbilt University Medical Center. "Mothers of children with autism benefit from peer-led intervention." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 21 July 2014. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2014/07/140721123710.htm>.
Vanderbilt University Medical Center. (2014, July 21). Mothers of children with autism benefit from peer-led intervention. ScienceDaily. Retrieved October 30, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2014/07/140721123710.htm
Vanderbilt University Medical Center. "Mothers of children with autism benefit from peer-led intervention." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2014/07/140721123710.htm (accessed October 30, 2014).

Share This



More Health & Medicine News

Thursday, October 30, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

Mind-Controlled Prosthetic Arm Restores Amputee Dexterity

Mind-Controlled Prosthetic Arm Restores Amputee Dexterity

Reuters - Innovations Video Online (Oct. 29, 2014) A Swedish amputee who became the first person to ever receive a brain controlled prosthetic arm is able to manipulate and handle delicate objects with an unprecedented level of dexterity. The device is connected directly to his bone, nerves and muscles, giving him the ability to control it with his thoughts. Matthew Stock reports. Video provided by Reuters
Powered by NewsLook.com
Google To Use Nanoparticles, Wearables To Detect Disease

Google To Use Nanoparticles, Wearables To Detect Disease

Newsy (Oct. 29, 2014) Google X wants to improve modern medicine with nanoparticles and a wearable device. It's all an attempt to tackle disease detection and prevention. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Can Drinking Milk Lead To Early Death?

Can Drinking Milk Lead To Early Death?

Newsy (Oct. 29, 2014) Researchers in Sweden released a study showing heavy milk drinkers face an increased mortality risk from a variety of causes. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Obama: The US Will Not 'run and Hide' From Ebola

Obama: The US Will Not 'run and Hide' From Ebola

AP (Oct. 29, 2014) Surrounded by health care workers in the White House East Room, President Barack Obama said the U.S. will likely see additional Ebola cases in the weeks ahead. But he said the nation can't seal itself off in the fight against the disease. (Oct. 29) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com

Search ScienceDaily

Number of stories in archives: 140,361

Find with keyword(s):
Enter a keyword or phrase to search ScienceDaily for related topics and research stories.

Save/Print:
Share:

Breaking News:

Strange & Offbeat Stories


Health & Medicine

Mind & Brain

Living & Well

In Other News

... from NewsDaily.com

Science News

Health News

    Environment News

    Technology News



    Save/Print:
    Share:

    Free Subscriptions


    Get the latest science news with ScienceDaily's free email newsletters, updated daily and weekly. Or view hourly updated newsfeeds in your RSS reader:

    Get Social & Mobile


    Keep up to date with the latest news from ScienceDaily via social networks and mobile apps:

    Have Feedback?


    Tell us what you think of ScienceDaily -- we welcome both positive and negative comments. Have any problems using the site? Questions?
    Mobile: iPhone Android Web
    Follow: Facebook Twitter Google+
    Subscribe: RSS Feeds Email Newsletters
    Latest Headlines Health & Medicine Mind & Brain Space & Time Matter & Energy Computers & Math Plants & Animals Earth & Climate Fossils & Ruins