Reducing burnout in mothers with an intellectually disabled child: an education programme


S. Gozum:


Title. Reducing burnout in mothers with an intellectually disabled child: an education programme.

Aim.  This paper is a report of a study conducted to examine the effect of participating in an education program on burnout for mothers of children with an intellectual disability.

Background.  Mothers with an intellectually disabled child are prone to suffer from excessive stress and burnout. There is limited evidence for the effectiveness of education interventions aimed at reducing burnout levels in this population.

Methods.  After baseline screening, mothers who agreed to participate (n = 90) were randomized to an intervention or control group. The intervention group participated in an interactive education programme for 1 hour, in addition to using an educational booklet designed and presented by the researchers. The booklet contained information about the characteristics of intellectually disabled children, the specific health care and education they require, non-profit organizations and foundations providing assistance, and ways in which mothers can cope with stress. The control group received the same intervention separately after completing the post-test. The study was carried out from 2004 to 2005.

Findings.  Intervention group members reported fewer episodes of emotional burnout compared to the control group, indicating that participation in a nursing education programme reduced the level of burnout experienced by mothers who have an intellectually disabled child. There were no effects of the education programme on perceptions of personal success, i.e. mother’s feelings of competence and successful achievement in care of their intellectually disabled child.

Conclusion.  Nurse-administered education should be provided for mothers who have an intellectually disabled child in order to reduce the degree of emotional burnout that these mothers typically experience.