Publication Date


UMMS Affiliation

Graduate School of Nursing

Document Type



Family Medicine | Health Psychology | Mental and Social Health | Mental Disorders | Nursing


Autism spectrum disorder (ASD) is a group of neurodevelopmental disorders typically diagnosed before the age of three that effect the child’s behavior, communication and social skills. Although a pediatric neuropsychologist often confirms a diagnosis of this disorder, the primary care provider is highly involved in the ongoing care of the autistic child. It is well researched that parenting a child with ASD is correlated with high levels of stress, anxiety and depression. While the current interventions for the child with ASD vastly improve the child lifetime outcomes, there are few programs in place beyond “support group” to address the specific mental health needs of the parent caring for a child with ASD. This research asks how a family-practice-based peer support group with rotations of primary care providers, nursing staff, occupational/physical therapists, and mental health counselors compared to standard ASD intervention alone affects the stress experienced by parents of children with autism over a one year period. A literature search of PubMed, The Cochrane Library, Scopus, Eric and PsychINFO yielded six appropriate articles for a literature review. The outcomes of these studies were reviewed, compared and summarized, and it was concluded that although the interventions examined in the literature varied in modality, length and setting, there was sufficient evidence to suggest that the above mentioned intervention would result in decreased stress in parents of children with ASD. Further research is needed to determine how best to determine which modes of intervention are most appropriate for specific stressful triggers.


autism spectrum disorders, stress, parents, family practice

Rights and Permissions

Copyright is held by the author, with all rights reserved.

DOI of Published Version


Journal/Book/Conference Title

Graduate School of Nursing Publications


Presented during a Graduate School of Nursing poster session at UMass Medical School on April 19, 2016.