Practitioner Review: Stress intervention for parents of children with intellectual disabilities

Authors


Richard Hastings, Intellectual and Developmental Disabilities Unit, School of Psychology, University of Wales Bangor, Bangor, Gwynedd LL57 2DG, UK; Email: r.hastings@bangor.ac.uk

Abstract

Background:  Parents of children with intellectual disabilities are at increased risk for stress and other mental health problems. The purpose of the present review is to consider the evidence base for psychological intervention to remediate stress in these parents.

Methods:  A selective review of interventions designed to reduce stress in parents of children with intellectual disabilities, with a focus on group interventions that incorporate various cognitive behavioural techniques.

Results:  Research evidence suggests that standard service models (e.g., respite care, case management) probably help to reduce parental stress. The strongest evidence base is for cognitive behavioural group interventions, especially for the reduction of stress in mothers. Some data also indicate the potential value of parent-led support networks.

Conclusions:  More research and clinical development are needed to establish a firmer evidence base for stress interventions with parents of children with intellectual disabilities. There are also a number of potential practical implications of reducing parental stress for maximising the efficacy of general parent training interventions and also behavioural programmes for children's challenging behaviours.

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