The Inclusion and Impact on Caregiver Mental Health Outcomes in Caregiver-Implemented Communication Interventions: A Scoping Review
Background: The stress and strain on mental health that results in caregivers can negatively impact the child’s development as well (Crnic et al., 2017). Many caregivers of children with disabilities and language impairments experience higher levels of stress compared to parents of typically developing children (Aras et al., 2014; Plant & Sanders 2007). In order to support their child’s language skills, many caregivers rely on language intervention treatments. Caregiver-implemented communication interventions involve caregivers learning strategies to use with their child to improve their language outcomes. . It is also known that caregiver stress is negatively associated with quality caregiver-child language interactions (Abidin et al., 1992) and that frequent high-quality caregiver-child interactions are positively associated with child language outcomes. However, we do not know what the impact of caregiver-implemented communication interventions have on caregivers’ mental health and stress. Method: A scoping review was conducted to describe the inclusion and impact of caregiver-implemented communication interventions on caregiver mental health outcomes. Using already identified and screened studies, data was extracted on caregiver mental health outcomes from research articles that included children with language impairments. Information on the type of outcome (e.g., stress, depression) and the level of evidence supporting each outcome was collected. Outcomes were categorized into evidence levels such as lacking, promising, or compelling, based on significance and effect sizes. Results: 54.24% of outcomes were considered lacking. 0.34% of outcomes were coded as promising. 25.42% of outcomes qualified as compelling. Conclusions: This scoping review is impactful because gaining this knowledge about caregiver health outcomes resulting from parent-implemented interventions could transform how these interventions are accomplished. Interventions that improve caregiver mental health outcomes and child language outcomes are likely to have an additional impact on child language outcomes because mental health and stress levels of caregivers affect caregiver-child interactions. It is important to identify exactly how caregiver health outcomes are impacted by the intervention, as well as what specific factors from the intervention impacted them (e.g., receiving training on language facilitation strategies, knowledge about child language development, or specific stress reduction strategies). Evidence of the impact on caregiver mental health is currently not prioritized nor are they significant in their evidence levels. Mental health outcomes should continue to be assessed during future caregiver-implemented interventions as well a prioritized focus of interventions.