• Development of materials to support parents whose babies cry excessively: findings and health service implications.

      Long, Jaqui; Powell, Charlotte; Bamber, Deborah; Garratt, Rosemary; Brown, Jayne; Dyson, Sue E.; St James-Roberts, Ian (Cambridge University Press, 2018-01-10)
      Aim: To develop evidence-based materials which provide information and support for parents who are concerned about their baby's excessive crying. As well as meeting these parents' needs, the aim was to develop a package of materials suitable for use by the UK National Health Service (NHS). Background: Parents report that around 20% of 1-4 month-old infants in western countries cry excessively without apparent reason. Traditionally, research has focused on the crying and its causes. However, evidence is growing that how parents evaluate and respond to the crying needs to receive equal attention. This focus encompasses parental resources, vulnerabilities, wellbeing, and mental health. At present, the UK NHS lacks a set of routine provisions to support parents who are concerned about their baby's excessive crying. The rationales, methods and findings from a study developing materials for this purpose are reported. Method: Following a literature review, 20 parents whose babies previously cried excessively took part in focus groups or interviews. They provided reports on their experiences and the supports they would have liked when their baby was crying excessively. In addition, they identified their preferred delivery methods and devices for accessing information and rated four example support packages identified by the literature review. Findings: During the period their baby cried excessively, most parents visited a health service professional and most considered these direct contacts to have provided helpful information and support. Websites were similarly popular. Telephones and tablets were the preferred means of accessing online information. Groups to meet other parents were considered an important additional resource by all the parents. Three package elements - a Surviving Crying website, a printed version of the website, and a programme of Cognitive Behaviour Therapy-based support sessions delivered to parents by a qualified practitioner, were developed for further evaluation.
    • Mental health and wellbeing in parents of excessively crying infants: prospective evaluation of a support package.

      Powell, Charlotte; Bamber, Deborah; Long, Jaqui; Garratt, Rosemary; Brown, Jayne; Rudge, Sally; Morris, Tom; Bhupendra Jaicim, Nishal; Plachcinski, Rachel; Dyson, Sue E.; et al. (John Wiley & Sons Ltd, 2018-04-17)
      Background During the first four months of age, approximately 20% of infants cry a lot without an apparent reason. Most research has targeted the crying and its causes, but there is a need for equal attention to the impact of the crying on parents and subsequent outcomes. This study reports the findings from a prospective evaluation of a package of materials designed to support the wellbeing and mental health of parents who judge their infant to be crying excessively. The resulting ‘Surviving Crying’ package comprised a website, printed materials, and a programme of Cognitive Behaviour Therapy - based support sessions delivered to parents by a qualified practitioner. It was designed to be suitable for National Health Service (NHS) use. Methods Parents were referred to the study by NHS Health Visitors or Community Public Health Nurses. Fifty seven parents of excessively crying babies received the support package and provided rating scale measures of depression, anxiety, frustration because of the crying, and other measures before receiving the support package, together with outcome measures afterwards. Results Significant reductions in depression and anxiety were found with the number of parents meeting clinical criteria for depression or anxiety halving between baseline and outcome. These improvements were not explained by changes in infant crying. Reductions also occurred in the number of parents reporting the crying to be a large or severe problem (from 28 to 3 parents) or feeling very or extremely frustrated by the crying (from 31 to 1 parent). Other findings included increases in parents’ confidence, knowledge of infant crying and improvements in parents’ sleep. Conclusions The findings suggest that the Surviving Crying package may be effective in supporting the wellbeing and mental health of parents of excessively crying babies. Further, large-scale controlled trials of the package in NHS settings are warranted.
    • Parental and health professional evaluations of a support service for parents of excessively crying infants

      Bamber, Deborah; Powell, Charlotte; Long, Jaqui; Garratt, Rosie; Brown, Jayne; Rudge, Sally; Morris, Tom; Bhupendra Jaicim, Nishal; Plachcinski, Rachel; Dyson, Sue E.; et al. (Springer Nature/ BMC, 2019-08-22)
      The ‘Surviving Crying’ study was designed to develop and provisionally evaluate a support service for parents of excessively crying babies, including its suitability for use in the United Kingdom (UK) National Health Service (NHS). The resulting service includes three materials: a website, a printed booklet, and a Cognitive Behaviour Therapy (CBT) programme delivered to parents by a qualified professional. This study aimed to measure whether parents used the materials and to obtain parents’ and NHS professionals’ evaluations of whether they are fit for purpose. Parents were asked about participating in a randomised controlled trial (RCT) to evaluate the materials fully in health service use. Methods: Participants were 57 parents with babies they judged to be crying excessively and 96 NHS Health Visitors (HVs). Parental use and parents’ and HVs’ ratings of the Surviving Crying materials were measured. Results: Thirty four parents reported using the website, 24 the printed booklet and 24 the CBT sessions. Parents mostly accessed the website on mobile phones or tablets and use was substantial. All the parents and almost all HVs who provided data judged the materials to be helpful for parents and suitable for NHS use. If offered a waiting list control group, 85% of parents said they would have been willing to take part in a full RCT evaluation of the Surviving Crying package. Discussion and conclusions: The findings identify the need for materials to support parents of excessively crying babies within national health services in the UK. The Surviving Crying support package appears suitable for this purpose and a full community-level RCT of the package is feasible and likely to be worthwhile. Limitations to the study and barriers to delivery of the services were identified, indicating improvements needed in future research.
    • Parents’ experiences of having an excessively crying baby and implications for support services

      Garratt, Rosemary; Bamber, Deborah; Powell, Charlotte; Long, Jaqui; Brown, Jayne; Turney, Nicy; Chessman, Jo; Dyson, Sue E.; St James-Roberts, Ian; De Montfort University; et al. (Mark Allen Group (MAGonline), 2019-03-20)
      Evidence suggests that around 20% of healthy babies cry for long periods without apparent reason, causing significant distress to parents and a range of adverse outcomes. This study explored parents’ experiences of having an excessively crying baby and their suggestions for improved NHS support. Focus groups and interviews with 20 parents identified three key themes: disrupted expectations and experiences of parenthood; stigma and social isolation; seeking support and validation of experience. Parents experienced shock, anxiety and a sense of failure, leading to self-imposed isolation and a reluctance to seek help. Other people’s reactions sometimes reinforced their feelings. Parents need more support, including from health professionals, to cope with excessive crying, and recommendations for this support are given.