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Psychosocial Intervention

On-line version ISSN 2173-4712Print version ISSN 1132-0559

Abstract

ROMERO-MARTINEZ, Angel et al. A cognitive-behavioural intervention improves cognition in caregivers of people with autism spectrum disorder: A pilot study. Psychosocial Intervention [online]. 2017, vol.26, n.3, pp.165-170. ISSN 2173-4712.  http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.psi.2017.06.002.

As postulated by the stress process model, chronically stressed individuals, such as caregivers of people with chronic psychological disorders, have poorer cognitive performance and higher age-related cognitive decline than individuals not exposed to chronic stress. When analysing this topic in caregivers, the majority of research has been conducted in populations in which the care recipient has dementia and/or Alzheimer's disease, while relatively few studies have analysed cognition in caregivers of offspring with autism spectrum disorder (ASD). The main objective of this pilot study was to analyse the effect of a cognitive-behavioural intervention on cognition in caregivers of people with ASD. Specifically, we sought to gather evidence on whether there were clinically significant improvements in speed/attention, memory, and visuospatial, language and executive functions after the intervention. The participants were 17 parents (mean age of 52 years, 59% females) of ASD-diagnosed people who had cared for their offspring for approximately 14 years. The study had a pre-post design. After the cognitive-behavioural intervention, ASD caregivers had better selective attention, short- and long-term memory for words, stories and images, naming, cognitive flexibility and planning skills (p = .01 for all). Nevertheless, no changes were observed in general cognitive status, working memory for digits, verbal fluency, processing speed or inhibitory control (p > .05 for all). These findings underline the relevance of proper support and respite services to help caregivers cope with and reduce stress. A comprehensive neuropsychological assessment together with adjuvant domain-specific procedures and programmes to improve cognitive abilities are required to improve caregivers’ well-being and health.

Keywords : Autism spectrum disorder; Caregivers; Chronic stress; Cognition; Cognitive-behavioural intervention.

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