Parents’ Experiences of Psychoeducational Sleep Management Interventions: A Qualitative Study of Parents of Children With Neurodevelopmental Disabilities

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Psychoeducational approaches to managing behavioral sleep problems in children with neurodisabilities are directed at the parent, increasing their knowledge and understanding of sleep and requiring them to change the way they manage sleep disturbance. Given parental engagement with and adherence to an intervention are critical to its success, it is important we understand parents’ experiences of participating in interventions of this nature. It is surprising therefore that, to date, research in this area is extremely limited. This article reports the findings from a qualitative study of 35 parents who had received a psychoeducational sleep management intervention (SMI) delivered through 1 of the following modes: a half-day workshop (n = 8); a 4-session group-delivered intervention (n = 15); or 1-to-1 work with a specialist sleep practitioner (n = 12). The study was part of a larger program of work evaluating SMIs for children with developmental disorders, autistic spectrum conditions, or both. Purposeful sampling was used to represent intervention outcome, child’s diagnosis, parents’ education, and partner involvement in the intervention. Focus groups and individual interviews were used to gather data. The data were subject to a thematic analysis in relation to (a) parents’ descriptions of the processes by which a SMI leads to improvements in their child’s sleep; (b) parents’ views of the factors which hinder the achievement of positive intervention outcomes; and (c) parents’ views on intervention intensity and mode of delivery. The implications of the findings in terms of the design, content, and delivery of such interventions are discussed.

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