: Acceptance and Commitment Therapy (ACT) is an emerging treatment for improving psychological well-being.
: To summarize research evaluating the effects of ACT on psychological well-being in children with special health care needs (SHCN) and their parents. Data Sources: An electronic literature search was conducted in PubMed, Web of Science, Ovid/EMBASE and PsycINFO (January 2000-April 2021). Study Selection: Included were studies that assessed ACT in children with SHCN (ages 0-17y) and/or parents of children with SHCN and had a comparator group. Data Extraction: Descriptive data were synthesized and presented in a tabular format, and data on relevant outcomes (e.g., depressive symptoms, stress, avoidance and fusion) were used in the meta-analyses to explore the effectiveness of ACT (administered independently with no other psychological therapy) compared to no treatment.
: Ten studies were identified (child (7) and parent (3)). In children with SHCN, ACT was more effective than no treatment at helping depressive symptoms (standardized mean difference [SMD] = -4.27, 95% CI: -5.20, -3.34; p < 0.001) and avoidance and fusion (SMD = -1.64, 95% CI: -3.24, -0.03; p = 0.05), but not stress. In parents of children with SHCN, ACT may help psychological inflexibility (SMD = -0.77, 95% CI: -1.07, -0.47; p < 0.01). Limitations: There was considerable statistical heterogeneity in three of the six meta-analyses.
: There is some evidence that ACT may help with depressive symptoms in children with SHCN and psychological inflexibility in their parents. Research on the efficacy of ACT for a variety of children with SHCN and their parents is especially limited, and future research is needed.
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