Somatic Symptoms and Mental Health in Parents with and without Autistic Children: A Comparative Study
Background: Autism spectrum disorder (ASD) affects families, especially the parents of people with this disorder. The purpose of this study was to investigate psychosomatic symptoms and mental health in parents of children with and without autism.
Methods: This casual-comparative study was performed on parents of children with and without autism who referred to an outpatient autism specialty clinic located in Tehran, Iran, in 2020-2021. The statistical population included all parents of children with and without autism and the sample consisted of 80 parents selected through random sampling method. Therefore, randomized sampling was conducted and the parents were selected based on the inclusion criteria. The data collection tools used included the Patient Health Questionnaire-15 (PHQ-15) and General Health Questionnaire-28 (GHQ-28). Data were analyzed using descriptive statistics (mean and standard deviation) and MANOVA in SPSS software.
Results: The results showed that parents of autistic children had higher GHQ-28 and PHQ-15 scores than parents of children without autism (F= 18.47; 11.901; P = 0.001).
Conclusion: Our results showed that the rate of psychosomatic symptoms and all dimensions of mental health was higher in parents of autistic children compared to that in the parents of children without autism. Thus, governments and other relevant institutions should provide support to parents of autistic children.
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