Feasibility Randomised Controlled Trial of the online Hope Programme for Parents of Autistic Children during COVID-19

  • Bul, K. (Speaker)
  • Wright, H. (Speaker)
  • Faith Martin (Speaker)
  • Gemma Cartwright (Speaker)
  • Cain Clark (Speaker)
  • Wendy Clyne (Speaker)
  • Gabriela Matouskova (Speaker)
  • Turner, A. (Speaker)

    Activity: Talk or presentationOral presentation


    Background Parents of autistic children can experience lower levels of psychological well-being, specifically in the context of COVID-19 pandemic. The online HOPE Programme (HOPE) is a six-week, digital, group-based, positive psychology self-management programme which provides parents with the knowledge, skills and confidence to manage their psychological wellbeing. This feasibility RCT tested the acceptability and feasibility of the online HOPE programme to parents of autistic children during COVID-19. Methods This was an online, questionnaire-based, pre-post test, feasibility RCT. Parents of autistic children (N=136; age M=41.0, SD=7.6; 96.0% female) were randomised to the intervention group (IG; n=62) or a waitlist control group (CG; n=74). Participants completed online pre- and post-test outcome measures of positive mental wellbeing (PMWB), depression, anxiety, hope and gratitude. Data were analysed using a 2 (Group; IG, CG) x 2 (Time; pre, post) ANOVA for each outcome measure. Open text-based responses to questions around specific challenges brought about by the COVID-19 pandemic were summarised using thematic analysis. Results The 2x2 ANOVAs revealed significant Group x Time interactions for positive mental wellbeing (p<.001) and hope (p=.003). Post-hoc analyses showed improvements in PMWB (p<.001) and hope (p=.027) for the online Hope programme, but not the Waitlist Control Condition (p=.753 and p=.298, respectively). Thematic analysis revealed parents’ top three concerns during COVID-19 were: i) mental health, ii) social support, iii) school. Discussion Findings show that HOPE has a positive impact on psychological wellbeing for parents of autistic children during COVID-19. A more robust RCT including a long-term follow-up (after 6 months) is needed to determine its overall value and impact.
    Period24 Aug 2021
    Event title35th European Health Psychology Society conference
    Event typeConference