The protective effects of social support for caregiver mental health are well documented, however the differential impact of support providers (partner, child, family, siblings, friends, professionals) and types (perceived, received) remain unclear. Observational data from 21 independent studies, involving a pooled sample of 2273 parents, stepparents and grandparents of children (aged ≤ 19) with autism spectrum disorder (ASD) were examined. Pearson’s r, publication bias and heterogeneity were calculated using random effects modelling. Significant associations were noted between lowered depressive symptoms and positive sources of support, regardless of support type. Parental mental health can be enhanced by strengthening close personal relationships alongside connections with formal support services. Longitudinal research is needed to explore support need and perceived helpfulness over time.
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This manuscript was adapted from a dissertation submitted by the first author in partial fulfilment of an Honours degree of Bachelor of Psychological Science at the University of Adelaide. The authors are grateful to the individual researchers who kindly responded to requests for additional data or enquiries regarding their papers. Special thanks are also extended to Vikki Langton, Research Librarian at the University of Adelaide, for her assistance in developing and reviewing the database search terms.
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Schiller, V.F., Dorstyn, D.S. & Taylor, A.M. The Protective Role of Social Support Sources and Types Against Depression in Caregivers: A Meta-Analysis. J Autism Dev Disord 51, 1304–1315 (2021). https://doi.org/10.1007/s10803-020-04601-5