The Colorado Parent Mentoring Program: Parent-to-Parent Support Improves Family Functioning and Satisfaction with Care
Objectives: This study was designed to measure family functioning and quality of life, service use, social support, and program acceptability outcomes of the CMP program for families of children newly diagnosed with autism.
Methods: In a randomized controlled trial, the CPM intervention was given to a group of parents (n=29) and compared to a waitlist group (n=32) on four main outcomes: 1) family quality of life (Family Quality of Life questionnaire; FQOL), 2) family functioning (Family Adaptation and Cohesion Scale IV; FACES), 3) service use, and 4) program acceptability. Qualitative interviews were also conducted with all participants to explore program benefits to social support.
Results: Linear mixed models were used to test the effect of group (active vs waitlist), time (pre vs post). The active group reported greater satisfaction with disability related supports following intervention (FQOL; t = 2.18, p=.03) and reduced family rigidity (FACES, t=2.15, p=.04). Services used outside of the school setting increased for all participants but did not meet the national standard; the program was highly acceptable to participants. Qualitative data suggest that once mothers were connected to other mothers, they experienced a sense of empowerment, which reduced stressful interactions with family members.
Conclusions: The CPM program prevented rigidity in the family system and reduced the level of importance parents held regarding involvement of other family members in their child’s care. Family functioning and quality of life are complex following a child's diagnosis of autism. The CPM program positively impacts family functioning and quality of life, primarily due to the increased social support created through this program for mothers.