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Children’s ADHD Interventions and Parenting Stress: A Meta-Analysis

Abstract

In order to increase our understanding of parenting stress, this study examined underutilized data on the effect of interventions for child ADHD on parenting stress. This project employed meta-analytic techniques to evaluate whether interventions for a child’s attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) reduce parenting stress in families of children with ADHD, as reported on the Parenting Stress Index (PSI) or its variants. This study also assessed whether this efficacy varies based on whether the intervention is pharmacological or psychosocial, and within the psychosocial domain whether parents are directly involved or targeted in some way by the intervention. A number of parent, child, and study characteristics were also evaluated as potential moderators. A comprehensive search identified 43 (29 published, 14 unpublished) manuscripts relevant to the meta-analysis. Thirty-three studies compared levels of total parenting stress before and after treatment (within-subjects), producing a moderate effect size, d = 0.50, 95% CI [0.42, 0.59], p < .001. Nine studies compared total parenting stress between treatment and control groups (between-subjects), d = 0.53, 95% CI [0.33, 0.72]. Parent gender was the only statistically significant moderator, with studies with a larger proportion of mothers showing a larger effect, Q = 5.44, p = .02, k = 17. This study advances our understanding of parenting stress and identifies areas for future research, including research on fathers and longitudinal studies of families of children with ADHD.

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This study was funded by the University of Manitoba.

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Correspondence to Jennifer Theule.

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Theule, J., Cheung, K. & Aberdeen, K. Children’s ADHD Interventions and Parenting Stress: A Meta-Analysis. J Child Fam Stud 27, 2744–2756 (2018). https://doi.org/10.1007/s10826-018-1137-x

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Keywords

  • Attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder
  • Parenting stress
  • Meta-analysis
  • Motherhood
  • Families