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A failure to confirm the effectiveness of a brief group psychoeducational program for mothers of children with high-functioning pervasive developmental disorders: a randomized controlled pilot trial

Authors Suzuki M, Yamada A, Watanabe N, Akechi T, Katsuki F, Nishiyama T, Imaeda M, Miyachi T, Otaki K, Mitsuda Y, Ota A, A Furukawa T

Received 3 January 2014

Accepted for publication 28 January 2014

Published 30 June 2014 Volume 2014:10 Pages 1141—1153


Checked for plagiarism Yes

Review by Single-blind

Peer reviewer comments 4

Masako Suzuki,1 Atsurou Yamada,1 Norio Watanabe,1 Tatsuo Akechi,1 Fujika Katsuki,2 Takeshi Nishiyama,3 Masayuki Imaeda,4 Taishi Miyachi,4 Kazuo Otaki,5 Yumiko Mitsuda,6 Akino Ota,6 Toshi A Furukawa7

1Department of Psychiatry and Cognitive-Behavioral Medicine, Nagoya City University Graduate School of Medical Sciences, Nagoya, Japan; 2Department of Psychiatric and Mental Health Nursing, Nagoya City University School of Nursing, Nagoya, Japan; 3Clinical Trial Management Center, Nagoya City University Hospital, Nagoya, Japan; 4Department of Neonatology and Pediatrics, Nagoya City University Graduate School of Medical Sciences, Nagoya, Japan; 5Kazuo Mental Clinic, Toyohashi, Japan; 6Toyokawa Sakura Hospital, Toyokawa Japan; 7Department of Health Promotion and Human Behavior, Kyoto University Graduate School of Medicine/School of Public Health, Kyoto, Japan

Objective: The purpose of this study was to examine the effectiveness of group psychoeducation to relieve the psychological distress of mothers of children with high-functioning pervasive developmental disorders (HFPDD) and to improve the behaviors of the children.
Methods: Seventy-two mothers of preschool outpatients with HFPDD were randomly assigned to a four-session brief group psychoeducational program (GP). The sessions were held every second week in addition to the usual treatment (GP + treatment as usual [TAU] group), or to a TAU-alone group. The primary outcome was self-reported symptoms of maternal mental health as assessed using the 28-item General Health Questionnaire (GHQ-28) at 21 weeks post-randomization (week 21). The GHQ-28 at the end of the intervention (week 7), Aberrant Behavior Checklist (ABC) for the behavior of the children, the Zarit Burden Interview (ZBI), and the Medical Outcomes Study 36-item Short Form Health Survey (SF-36) were carried out at weeks 7 and 21. We tested the group effects with the interaction between the intervention and the evaluation points.
Results: The GHQ-28 score at week 21 was significantly higher in the GP + TAU group as compared to that in the TAU-alone group, indicating a greater improvement in the TAU-alone group. There was no evidence that GP + TAU led to a greater improvement of maternal mental health than TAU-alone at week 7. Similarly, no evidence was obtained to indicate that GP + TAU led to a reduction in the ABC or ZBI scores by week 7 or 21. The adjusted scores for the RF (role emotional) and MH (mental health) subscales of the SF-36 at week 21 were also significantly lower in the GP + TAU group, indicating a similar tendency to that of the change of the GHQ-28 score at week 21.
Conclusion: The psychoeducational program did not alleviate maternal distress, aberrant behaviors of the children, or caregiver burden.

Keywords: family psychoeducation, pervasive developmental disorder, problem-solving therapy, parenting stress

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