Mindfulness Therapies for Improving Mental Health in Parents of Children with a Developmental Disability: a Systematic Review

Publication Type:
Journal Article
Journal of Developmental and Physical Disabilities, 2020
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© 2020, Springer Science+Business Media, LLC, part of Springer Nature. Mindfulness offers promise as a therapy approach for parents of children with developmental disabilities (DD), however its effectiveness in managing mental health symptoms remains unclear. This review quantitatively examines the comparative effectiveness of mindfulness-based and informed interventions, drawing on the evidence base from randomised controlled trials (RCTs). Eight RCTs were identified from the Embase, PsycINFO, PubMed and Scopus databases. Risk of bias was assessed using the Cochrane Collaboration tool and Hedges’ g effect sizes, with associated 95% confidence intervals and p values calculated. Parents who completed Mindful Parenting or Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction programs reported immediate and large to very large reductions in psychological distress (gw range:.39–1.94), with some improvements maintained up to 6 months post-treatment. A single study reported short-term benefits with Acceptance and Commitment Therapy. Evidence for the mental health benefits of mindfulness for parents of children with DD is still at an early stage. Controlled trials are needed to determine the differential effects of specific mindfulness techniques and how to best adapt this approach to best meet the unique needs of a vulnerable caregiver population.
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