Various parent training interventions have been shown to have some effect on the symptoms of children with autism. We carried out a systematic review and meta-analyses to assess effectiveness of parental training for children with autism on their symptoms and parental stress.
Four electronic databases, CINAHL, EMBASE, MEDLINE and PsycINFO were searched until March 2020 for relevant literature. Two reviewers independently screened bibliographies using an eligibility checklist and extracted data using a structured proforma. We have also carried out meta-analyses when data were available for pooling.
Seventeen papers from 15 studies were included for data analysis. Fifteen papers showed a positive treatment effect when compared with the control group, although not always significant. Meta-analysis based on pooled data from only two studies in each respective intervention, showed small to moderate treatment effects for three interventions, DIR/Floortime, Pivotal Response and Parent focused training respectively.
As in previous systematic reviews there was a mild to moderate treatment effects of three specific types of interventions respectively. However, it was difficult to draw any definitive conclusion about the effectiveness and generalisability of any intervention because of the wide variation in the interventions, control groups, outcome measures, small sample size, small number of studies in meta-analysis, overlap between the intervention and control procedures used in the included studies. There is an urgent need for experts in various international centres to jointly standardise a parent training intervention for children with autism and carry out a large scale RCT to assess its clinical and economic effectiveness.
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