Document Type

Article

Publication Date

2022

Keywords

Bangladesh, children with autism, depression, mothers, psychological counseling

Digital Object Identifier (DOI)

https://doi.org/10.1017/gmh.2022.16

Abstract

Background: We assessed the feasibility of implementing psychological counseling services (PCS) for mothers of children with autism spectrum disorders (ASD) integrated within special education settings in urban Bangladesh. Method: In two special education schools for ASD in Dhaka City, trained female psychologists screened mothers using the Patient Health Questionnaire (PHQ-9). PCS was administered to all the mothers irrespective of a diagnosis of depression. Mothers with a PHQ-9 score >4 who met criteria for a major depressive episode (MDE) based on the DSM-IV Structured Interview Axis I Disorders (SCID-I) were also administered skill-building training through monthly home visits to support ASD care. The level of depression was assessed by the Depression Measurement Scale (DMS), and quality of life (QoL) was measured by Visual Analogue Scale (VAS) of EQ5D5L scale before and after PCS. Result: Among 188 mothers enrolled in the study, 81 (43%) received PCS, and 27.1% (22) had MDE. In the first month, 73 sessions were scheduled and 60 completed (85%). In the last month, 53 sessions were scheduled and 52 completed (98%). The mean DMS score decreased from 79.5 ± 23 to 60 ± 20 (p = 0.004), and DMS scores were significantly higher among mothers with MDE (97.8 ± 12.1 v. 69.9 ± 22.1; p < 0.001) compared to those without MDE (72.7 ± 22.6 v. 56.1 ± 18.1; p = 0.003). The mean VAS score improved from 70.3 ± 14.1 to 80.2 ± 13.3 (p = 0.001) between the first and the last session. Changes in DMS were negatively correlated with changes in VAS scores (β: −0.213, 95% CI 0.370 to −0.056). Conclusion: Within special education schools for ASD in urban Bangladesh, it was feasible to administer an integrated program of PCS for mothers of children with ASD by trained psychologists who were able to screen and intervene to reduce their level of depression and improve their quality of life.

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Global Mental Health, in press

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