Supporting parents of children with chronic conditions: A randomized controlled trial of web-based and self-help ACT interventions

Päivi Lappalainen, Inka Pakkala, Juho Strömmer, Essi Sairanen, Kirsikka Kaipainen, Raimo Lappalainen

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Abstract

Objective
Many parents of children with chronic conditions and developmental disabilities experience high rates of burnout and psychological distress. The aim of the current study was to examine the effects of two differently delivered interventions based on acceptance and commitment therapy (ACT) on symptoms of burnout, depression, quality of life, psychological flexibility, and mindfulness skills.

Method
A total of 110 parents of children aged 0.8 to 17 years with chronic conditions and developmental disabilities participated in a randomized controlled trial lasting 13 weeks with two intervention groups: (1) an iACT intervention, including three psychologist-led video conferencing sessions, and (2) a self-help ACT, which received self-help material: an ACT-based booklet with the possibility of using ACT-based online exercises.

Results
For the main outcome measure burnout, a similar decrease was found in both groups. The supported iACT intervention produced significantly larger improvements in depressive symptoms (d = 0.49), psychological flexibility (d = 0.64), and mindfulness (d = 0.55) compared to the self-help ACT intervention. For health-related quality of life, only the dimension of role limitations caused by emotional problems showed a significant difference in favor of the supported iACT (d = 0.58).

Conclusions
The results suggest that the iACT intervention including three video conferencing sessions with a psychologist produced broader improvements in parents' psychological well-being than the self-help ACT. Overall, Internet-delivered interventions and video conferencing technology may offer a feasible alternative to psychological support and self-care for parents of children with chronic conditions. Further research is needed to investigate the long-term effects of the current delivery models.
Original languageEnglish
Article number100382
Number of pages10
JournalInternet Interventions
Volume24
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - Apr 2021
Publication typeA1 Journal article-refereed

Keywords

  • Acceptance and commitment therapy
  • Self-help
  • Parents of children with chronic conditions
  • Burnout
  • Video conferencing

Publication forum classification

  • Publication forum level 1

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