Adapting acceptance and commitment therapy for parents of children with life-threatening illness: pilot study

Burke, Kylie, Muscar, Frank, McCarthy, Maria, Dimovski, Anica, Hearps, Stephen, Anderson, Vicki and Walser, Robyn (2014) Adapting acceptance and commitment therapy for parents of children with life-threatening illness: pilot study. Families, Systems and Health, 32 1: 122-127. doi:10.1037/fsh0000012

Author Burke, Kylie
Muscar, Frank
McCarthy, Maria
Dimovski, Anica
Hearps, Stephen
Anderson, Vicki
Walser, Robyn
Title Adapting acceptance and commitment therapy for parents of children with life-threatening illness: pilot study
Journal name Families, Systems and Health   Check publisher's open access policy
ISSN 1091-7527
Publication date 2014-03-01
Year available 2014
Sub-type Article (original research)
DOI 10.1037/fsh0000012
Open Access Status Not yet assessed
Volume 32
Issue 1
Start page 122
End page 127
Total pages 6
Place of publication Washington, DC, United States
Publisher American Psychological Association
Language eng
Formatted abstract
We piloted a novel parent-targeted intervention, Take A Breath (TAB), for parents of children diagnosed with a life-threatening illness (LTI) with the aim of reducing parental distress. Parents were assisted to adapt to their child’s diagnosis, treatment, and recovery via TAB’s combined acceptance and commitment therapy (ACT) and problem-solving skills training (PSST) approach. Participants were 11 parents of children with a diagnosis of cancer, or who had life-saving cardiac surgery at least 4 months prior. Parents completed questionnaires at pre, post, and 6-month follow-up assessing parent posttraumatic stress symptoms (PTSS), the emotional impact of the child’s LTI (e.g., feelings of uncertainty, guilt and sorrow, emotional resources), and psychological elements targeted by the intervention (parental psychological flexibility and mindfulness). Parents reported significant reductions in PTSS and emotional impact from their child’s LTI, along with significant improvements in parental psychological flexibility and mindfulness. Effect sizes were medium to large, and improvements were maintained at 6-month follow-up. Our pilot indicates the TAB intervention has promise for preventing or reducing parental distress associated with child LTI and warrants more rigorous evaluation. Although preliminary, these findings suggest that targeting parents’ subjective perceptions of their child’s LTI may be an effective approach to reducing parental distress. Our results also indicate the potential for such an approach to be adopted across diverse child diagnoses in the acute pediatric setting. Further, our findings provide early indications that ACT combined with PSST is an appropriate therapeutic approach within this context.
Keyword Acceptance and commitment therapy
Intervention: life threatening childhood illness
Posttraumatic stress symptoms
Q-Index Code C1
Q-Index Status Confirmed Code
Institutional Status UQ

Document type: Journal Article
Sub-type: Article (original research)
Collections: Official 2015 Collection
School of Psychology Publications
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Citation counts: TR Web of Science Citation Count  Cited 15 times in Thomson Reuters Web of Science Article | Citations
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