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Caring for a child with intellectual disabilities can be a very rewarding but demanding experience. Research in this area has primarily focused on mothers, with relatively little attention given to the mental health of fathers.
The purpose of this review was to summarise the evidence related to the mental health of fathers compared with mothers, and with fathers in the general population.
A meta-analysis was undertaken of all studies published by 1 July 2018 in Medline, PsycINFO, CINAHL and EMBASE, using terms on intellectual disabilities, mental health and father carers. Papers were selected based on pre-defined inclusion and exclusion criteria.
Of 5544 results, 20 studies met the inclusion criteria and 12 had appropriate data for meta-analysis. For comparisons of fathers with mothers, mothers were significantly more likely to have poor general mental health and well-being (standardised mean difference (SMD) −0.38, 95% CI −0.56 to −0.20), as well as higher levels of depression (SMD, −0.46; 95% CI −0.68 to −0.24), stress (SMD, −0.32; 95% CI −0.46 to −0.19) and anxiety (SMD, −0.30; 95% CI −0.50 to −0.10).
There is a significant difference between the mental health of father and mother carers, with fathers less likely to exhibit poor mental health. However, this is based on a small number of studies. More data is needed to determine whether the general mental health and anxiety of father carers of a child with intellectual disabilities differs from fathers in the general population.
To date no studies have explored the effectiveness of written cognitive–behavioural therapy (CBT) resources for low mood and stress delivered via a course of self-help classes in a community setting.
To assess the effectiveness of an 8-week community-based CBT self-help group classes on symptoms of depression, anxiety and social function at 6 months (trial registration: ISRCTN86292664).
In total, 142 participants were randomly allocated to immediate (n = 71) or delayed access to a low-intensity CBT intervention (n = 71). Measures of depression, anxiety and social function were collected at baseline and 6 months.
There was a significant improvement for the primary outcome of Patient Health Questionnaire-9 (PHQ-9) score (mean between-group difference: –3.64, 95% CI –6.06 to –1.23; P = 0.004). The percentage of participants reducing their PHQ-9 score between baseline and 6 months by 50% or more was 17.9% for the delayed access group and 43.8% for the immediate access group. Secondary outcomes also improved including anxiety and social function. The intervention was cost neutral. The probabilities of a net benefit at willingness to pay thresholds of £20 000, £25 000 or £30 000 were 0.928, 0.944 and 0.955, respectively.
Low-intensity class-based CBT delivered within a community setting is effective for reducing depression, anxiety and impaired social function at little additional cost.
Declaration of interest
C.W. is president of British Association for Behavioural & Cognitive Psychotherapies (BABCP) – the lead body for CBT in the UK. He is also author of a range of CBT-based resources available commercially. He is developer of the LLTTF classes evaluated in this study. He receives royalty, and is shareholder and director of a company that commercialises these resources.
The point prevalence of mental ill-health among adults with intellectual disabilities is 40.9%, but its incidence is unknown.
To determine the incidence and possible predictors of mental ill-health.
Prospective cohort study to measure mental ill-health in adults with mild to profound intellectual disabilities.
Cohort retention was 70% (n=651). The 2-year incidence of mental ill-health was 16.3% (12.6% excluding problem behaviours, and 4.6% for problem behaviours) and the standardised incidence ratio was 1.87 (95%CI1.51 2.28). Factors related to incident mental ill-health have some similarities with those in the general population, but also important differences. Type of accommodation and support, previous mental ill-health, urinary incontinence, not having impaired mobility, more severe intellectual disabilities, adult abuse, parental divorce in childhood and preceding life events predicted incident ill-health; however, deprivation, other childhood abuse or adversity, daytime occupation, and marital and smoking status did not.
This is a first step towards intervention trials, and identifying sub-populations for more proactive measures. Public health strategy and policy that is appropriate for this population should be developed.
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