Relationship between severity of behavioural problems and depression in caregivers of children with Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD)

Our team of researchers asked how are severity of behavioural problems related to depression in caregivers of children with Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD)? The team hypothesised that more severe behavioural problems would be associated to higher levels of caregiver depression.

A survey was created in order to gain data on age, gender, family composition (single or two parent homes), perceived severity of the child’s behavioural problems and self-reported symptoms of depression.  Measures included a Likert-scale questionnaire adapted from the Child’s Behavior Checklist to measure severity of child behavioral problems and the Beck’s Depression Inventory to measure caregiver depression.

A total of 42 caregivers of autistic children participated in this study (n=42). Using the Pearson correlation coefficient, researchers found a very strong positive correlation between the two variables, r= 0.8, n= 42, p= >0.05. A one-way repeated measures ANOVA was conducted to explore the impact of the family composition in addition to the severity of behavior, on the parent’s depression level. The sample was divided into four groups: single-parent with high behavioral severity (single-H), two-parent with high behavioral severity (dual-H), single-parent with low behavioral severity (single-L) and two-parent with low behavioral severity (dual-L). The means of depression severity of these four groups, were compared using the Anova. Results show that family composition does not have a significant impact on parental depression. However due to the limitation regarding small sample sizes, these results remain inconclusive. The team of researchers therefore suggest further research be conducted with larger sample sizes.

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