Mental health and wellbeing in parents of excessively crying infants: prospective evaluation of a support package.
Bhupendra Jaicim, Nishal
Dyson, Sue E.
St James-Roberts, Ian
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AbstractBackground 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.
CitationPowell, Charlotte and Bamber, Deborah and Long, Jaqui and Garratt, Rosemary and Brown, Jayne and Rudge, Sally and Morris, Tom and Bhupendra Jaicim, Nishal and Plachcinski, Rachel and Dyson, Sue E. and Boyle, Elaine and St James-Roberts, Ian (2018) Mental health and wellbeing in parents of excessively crying infants: prospective evaluation of a support package. Child: Care, Health & Development, 44 (4). pp. 607-615.
JournalChild: Care, Health & Development