Stress, anxiety and depression among parents of children with autism spectrum disorder

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Document Type

Journal Article

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Interim status: Citation only.

Bitsika, V. & Sharpley, C. F. (2004). Stress, anxiety and depression among parents of children with autism spectrum disorder. Australian journal of guidance and counselling, 14(2), 151-161.

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© Copyright Vicki Bitsika and Christopher F. Sharpley, 2004


In a replication of a previous study of the incidence and contributing factors in anxiety, depression and stress in Victorian parents of a child with autism spectrum disorder (ASD), a sample of 107 Gold Coast parents completed a questionnaire that assessed their demographic backgrounds, anxiety and depression scores on standardised inventories, and also tapped several aspects of those factors that may have contributed to their wellbeing. Over 90% of parents reported that they were sometimes unable to deal effectively with their child's behaviour. Nearly half of the participants were severely anxious and nearly two thirds were clinically depressed. Factors that emerged as significant in differentiating between parents with high versus low levels of anxiety and depression included access to family support, parents' estimation of family caregivers' expertise in dealing with the behavioural difficulties of a child with ASD, and parental health. Parents' suggestions for personal support services are reported, and some comparisons across the data from the two states are made, with suggestions for further research into parent support mechanisms.

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This document has been peer reviewed.