Psychological distress among parents of children with autism spectrum disorders: A randomized control trial of cognitive behavioural therapy

Charity Neejide Onyishi, Maximus Monaheng Sefotho, Vera Victor-Aibodion

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

3 Citations (Scopus)


High psychological distress that ranges from stress reactions to anxiety and depression are prevalent among parents and caregivers of children with Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) and undermine positive parenting and health outcomes. The current study sought to investigate cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT) in curtailing psychological distress in a sample of those parenting children with autism. We conducted the study in Enugu state, Nigeria, with 97 parents of children with ASD. Participants were randomly allocated into CBT (N = 48) and waitlist comparison (WLC) (N = 49) groups. The CBT group participated in a 120 min CBT program weekly for 12 weeks. Data were collected using Demographic Questionnaire; Depression, Anxiety, and Stress Scale-21 items (DASS-21) and Satisfaction with therapy and therapist scale- revised (STTS-R). Three data sets were collected at baseline, post-test, and follow-up. Descriptive statistics, Repeated measures Multivariate Analysis of Variance (MANOVA), and t-test statistics were used to analyze the data. Raincloud plots were also used to illustrate results. Results revealed that all dimensions of psychological distress (DASS-depressive symptoms, DASS-anxiety, and DASS-stress) reduced significantly at post-CBT intervention and follow-up assessments in the CBT group, compared to the WLC. Multivariate analysis showed that the global psychological distress score was responsive to CBT intervention. We concluded that stress, anxiety, and depression among those parenting children with autism could be lessened with CBT.

Original languageEnglish
Article number102070
JournalResearch in Autism Spectrum Disorders
Publication statusPublished - Feb 2023


  • Anxiety
  • Autism Spectrum Disorders
  • Cognitive Behavioural Therapy
  • Depression
  • Parenting
  • Psychological distress
  • Stress

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Developmental and Educational Psychology
  • Clinical Psychology
  • Psychiatry and Mental Health


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