Moderate significant association found between positive parenting and outcomes for children with disabilities


This USA based meta-analysis looked at the association between parenting and outcomes for children with developmental disabilities. The authors point out that despite there being an extensive literature supporting the positive relationship between positive parenting and child outcomes for typically developing children, there has been little work to analyse the literature specific to children with developmental disabilities.

What they did to carry out a meta analysis of the aggregation of effect sizes across 14 studies which covered 576 participants published between 1990–2008. 41% of the participants were female, 50% had Down syndrome.

A meta-analysis focuses on contrasting and combining results from a number of studies to identify patterns, disagreement or other relationships between those results. The aim of a meta-analysis is to estimate the true effect size of the phenomenon  under study. Single studies may over or under estimate such effect sizes.

They found the random effects weighted average effect size indicated a moderate association between positive parenting attributes and child outcomes.

They were able to discount the effects of publication bias (the tendency to publish positive results over negative or null results. They found the effect sizes to be higher for older parents, younger children, and for those with Down syndrome.

They conclude that their results show a sufficiently large effect size to “provide support for efforts to evaluate and promote effective parenting skills when providing services for young children with disabilities.”

Positive parenting of children with developmental disabilities: A meta-analysis, Taylor Dyches T et al., in Research in Developmental Disabilities 33, 6, 2213-2220

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John Northfield

After qualifying as a social worker, John worked in community learning disability teams before getting involved in a number of long-stay hospital closure programmes, working to develop individual plans for people moving into their own homes. He worked for BILD, helping to develop the Quality Network and was editorial lead for the NHS electronic library learning disabilities specialist collection. This led him to found the Learning Disabilities Elf site with Andre Tomlin as a way of making the evidence accessible to practitioners in health and social care. Most recently he has worked as part of Mencap's national quality team and also been involved in a number of national website developments, including the General Medical Council's learning disabilities site.

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