Children with Developmental Disabilities (DD) and their parents are disproportionately affected by the pandemic . Parents are experiencing an increase in depression, anxiety, and a decrease in psychological well-being with the pandemic. Families from culturally diverse communities have experienced even greater impacts. They are also grappling with the additional spotlight on racial injustice in response to police violence and recent findings of unmarked gravesites of Indigenous children. Many of the services they relied upon have suffered numerous lockdowns and restrictions of access. Many parents are left without any support, which, contributes to worsening psychological strain and reduced levels of well-being. Parents need additional resources, supports, and interventions. These interventions must be easily accessible and offer the most help for the least amount of effort by parents to not further burden them. Interventions must also be more inclusive of the unique cultural needs of a more diverse array of Canadian families, such as BIPOC and LGBTQQIA+ families.
We will develop an e-health intervention to improve the well-being of parents of children with DD by giving parents access to brief, easily digestible, relevant, and practical bits of information and strategies, based on current evidence-based practices. The intervention will consist of an online health letter (90Second Parent Well-being) developed to address the challenges of parenting a child with DD that hinder one’s well-being and mental health. Each health letter will address a specific issue relevant to parents, and be made available via e-mail or text, based on parents’ preferences. We also will develop this intervention to be culturally responsive to racialized and LGBTQQIA+ populations, as these families have often been neglected in the study of clinical interventions.
The goal will be to develop the 90Second Parent Well-being health letter and evaluate its effectiveness in improving parent’s psychological well-being (primary outcome), parental resilience and reducing symptoms of depression and anxiety (secondary outcomes). Our team based at the IWK with expertise in e-health, parental well-being, EDI and evidence-based positive psychological and clinical interventions and a robust Parent Advisory Committee, will recruit a sample of 262 parents (at least 20% from EDI designated groups) of children aged 3-21 years with developmental disabilities from across Canada. Psychological well-being will be measured using the Psychological Well-being Scale. Parental resilience will be measured using the Parenting Resilience Elements Questionnaire; depressive symptoms will be assessed using the Patient Health Questionnaire-9; symptoms of anxiety will be assessed using the Generalized Anxiety Disorder scale. T-tests for comparison of two means will be used to test the effectiveness of the intervention.