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Telematic Intervention based on the Play Specialist Approach in the Covid-19 Era: Benefits for Parents of Children with Clinical Conditions

Giulia Perasso, Alice Maggiore, Allegri Chiara, Gloria Camurati, Porto Dei Piccoli Psychologist, Porto Dei Piccoli General Manager

Abstract: Covid-19 pandemic has changed the routines of families all over the world. From March 2020 up to today, Italian families are still struggling for adaptation. Parents of children and adolescents with a clinical diagnosis are more at risk for parental burnout, depression, and anxiety, and they are now experiencing restrictions in many services families relied on. Home-based and hospital-based interventions based on the Play Specialist’s approach have been limited due to anti-covid norms. Internationally, Play Specialist intervention has been empirically demonstrated effective in diminishing children’s negative emotions in relation to medical procedures and in increasing adaptation and compliance towards medical settings. Plus, Play Specialist’s intervention indirect effect on parental wellbeing is still unexplored. In Italy, differently from UK and USA, the Play Specialist intervention is not certified in the health-care system yet. The present study tests the effects on parental psychosocial health of a telematic adaptation of the Play Specialist approach (TPS), conducted in the post-lockdown months in Italy. Two groups of parents (N=33, Mean age=43.36, SD=9.81, Female= 66% receiving the TPS intervention, and N=33 Mean age=41.84, SD=6.15, Female=78% controls) of children in clinical conditions are compared. Parental burnout, anxiety, stress, depression, social support, and parental perception of children’s emotional problems have been measured via self-report questionnaires. Analysis of covariance reveals that the TPS group is less stressed, perceives higher social support, lower parental burnout (i.e., emotional distancing, contrast with other/previous Self, fed-up feeling), lower emotional and behavioural child’s problems than the control group. These findings are addressed at encouraging both research and practice around the Play Specialist’s intervention beyond the hospital-context.
Keywords: adaptation / parental perception / Children with Clinical / Play Specialist / parental burnout / children in clinical conditions

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