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The effects of caring in chaos

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What are the effects of a 12-week training programme for parents of children with ADHD, run on a voluntary basis by the Danish ADHD association? Does the programme help parents to a better life with their children, and do the children benefit from the tools given to the parents? These are the central questions in a new research project at SFI.

Since 2011, the Danish association ADHD-foreningen – an NGO working for people with ADHD – has offered a 12-week programme to parents of children with ADHD. Focusing on children aged 3 to 9 years, the programme “Caring in Chaos” aims to give the parents tools to manage everyday life with their child and it aims to establish networks between the participants. The programme runs once a week for 12 weeks, and the trainers work on a voluntary basis.

So far, the programme has received positive feedback from the parents. Many say that they feel more confident, have more resources and experience fewer conflicts with their children. Starting in March this year, ADHD-foreningen has asked SFI to conduct a randomized control trial (RCT) of the programme. The project has been made possible by a large donation from the Danish foundation TrygFonden.

Everyday life and parent confidence

Using various standardized psychometric tests of parental resources and child behaviour, the project will analyze whether and how ”Caring in Chaos” changes everyday life for families with children with ADHD.

“Clearly we hope to confirm in an RCT setting that the tools given in the programme help parents gain confidence in relation to rearing a child with ADHD; confidence which in turn can affect the child’s behaviour in a positive way,” explains project manager at SFI Christoffer Sonne-Schmidt.

In measuring outcomes for the parents, focus will be on issues like confidence and rearing strategies in relation to their child, levels of conflict in the family and overall life satisfaction. The children will be measured in terms of behavioural problems, temper, relations to siblings, etc.

Design

SFI and ADHD-foreningen hope to recruit 130 families to the project, as well as 40 voluntary trainers. Ten local branches of ADHD-foreningen will take part in the study.

The study uses a waiting-list design , where families are randomly assigned to either an early or a late course, and as Christoffer Sonne-Schmidt explains,

“Half of the families in the project will be offered training slots in early 2014, while the other half will be allocated slots in late 2014, thereby allowing us to use the latter as a control group for the former. This will enable us to measure the differences between those receiving the course and those still waiting”.

The project started in March of this year and will end in mid 2015.

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