While parenting, in general, can be stressful, mothers of children with autism spectrum disorder (ASD) experience chronic stress comparable to combat soldiers. Research suggests that respite care may potentially reduce stress among caregivers. However, greater understanding of this relationship is needed. The purpose of this integrative review is to examine the relationship between respite care and stress among caregivers of children with ASD.Sample and Eligibility:
A final sample of 11 primary research reports were located using several databases. Articles were included that were: related to the focus of the review, written in English, and published within the last 10 years.Results and Conclusion:
While most studies found that respite care was associated with lower stress, several found that respite care was associated with higher stress. One study found no association. A model is presented that contributes to a new understanding of this relationship. Overall, the results of this integrative review provide some evidence that respite care use may be associated with a decrease in stress among caregivers of children with ASD. However, due to the lack of consistency and quality across the studies, these findings must be interpreted with caution.Implications:
Healthcare providers must recognize the importance of tailoring respite care services to the unique family needs. Additionally, policy changes and innovative ideas are needed to help improve the quality of respite care and help expand access. Finally, additional research is necessary to better understand the relationship between respite care and stress among caregivers of children with ASD.