Children’s books as a brief intervention for parents with depressive symptoms and parenting stress
Nerissa S Bauer, MPH, Jennifer L Stanton, Aaron E Carroll, Stephen M Downs
Background: To determine whether children’s books illustrating positive parent-child interactions could serve as a brief intervention for parents with young children and to measure its impact on parenting stress. Methods: Sets of 3 children’s books with parenting content were given to families to take home after 1 of the books was read aloud in the exam room while waiting for the pediatrician. Parenting stress was measured at baseline and 1 month later. Multivariable logistic regression was performed to determine the intervention’s effect on parenting stress, adjusting for sociodemographic characteristics, parental depression and health literacy status. Results: 56 parents with 18-48 month old children participated in this pilot study. Mean total parenting stress scores did not change (baseline 68.7, 95% CI: 65.5-76.1; 1 month 70.8, 95% CI: 65.5-76.1). However, when scores were stratified by depressive status, parents with moderate to severe depression reported a reduction of parenting stress to below clinically significant levels (baseline 94.6, 95% CI: 70.0-119.2; 1 month 81.3, 95% CI: 56.2-106.3). Regression analysis showed parents with depressive symptoms were more likely to report a decrease in total parenting stress 1 month after the intervention (AOR: 6.3; 95% CI: 1.2-31.8), even after adjusting for socio-demographic characteristics, parental depression and health literacy status. Conclusions: Children’s books with parenting content may be a suitable brief primary carebased intervention, especially for parents with depressive symptoms. Our findings warrant future studies with larger sample sizes to understand the effect size of this intervention.