Purpose: The purpose of this review is to describe the prevalence of psychological distress in parents of children with type 1 diabetes (T1DM), the relationship between parental psychological distress and health outcomes, and parents' psychological experience of having a child with T1DM. Clinical and research implications are presented.
Method: A systematic mixed-studies review was undertaken to review the quantitative and qualitative research on the parental experience of having a child with T1DM. A total of 34 articles met the inclusion criteria and were included in the review.
Results: The prevalence of parental psychological distress across all studies ranged from 10% to 74%, with an average of 33.5% of parents reporting distress at diagnosis and 19% of parents reporting distress 1 to 4 years after diagnosis. Parental psychological distress in parents of children with T1DM, regardless of how it was defined, was associated with higher child self-report of stress and depressive symptoms, more problematic child behavior, and lower child self-report of quality of life. Parental psychological distress also had negative effects on diabetes management. Themes of the qualitative synthesis indicated that parents perceived T1DM as a difficult diagnosis that contributed to significant family disruption. Adjustment occurred over time; however, ongoing stress was experienced.
Conclusions: Screening for psychological distress in parents of children with T1DM is indicated, and preventive interventions are needed.