Parents of Children with Disabilities: Exploring the Reasons for Seeking Help for Sleep Problems

Prof Doc Thesis

McHugh, Annie 2016. Parents of Children with Disabilities: Exploring the Reasons for Seeking Help for Sleep Problems. Prof Doc Thesis University of East London Psychology
AuthorsMcHugh, Annie
TypeProf Doc Thesis

Background: Sleep problems in children with disabilities are highly prevalent
and impact upon the child’s, their parent’s and their family’s emotional and
physical well-being. Research suggests that cognitive-behavioural interventions
based on parental involvement can be effective for children experiencing these
problems but there appear to be challenges in engaging parents in services and
completing interventions. Research into this area has considered influences on
parental help-seeking for sleep problems but has been limited by a focus on
barriers to help-seeking and a lack of qualitative approaches. The aim of this
study was to explore parents’ experiences of sleep problems, the ways in which
they understand and talk about sleep problems and what influences seeking
help for sleep problems. Method: Semi-structured interviews were conducted
with ten parents of children with disabilities and sleep problems who had been
referred to a specialist sleep service. Thematic Analysis (TA) of the interviews
was underpinned by a critical realist epistemology and informed by Braun and
Clarke’s (2006) six-phase model of TA. Results: Five themes, which seemed to
be relevant to this group were constructed through the analysis: 1) Identifying
Sleep is a Problem describes how parents came to recognise sleep as a
problem, 2) How to do Parenting describes how parents were influenced by
ideals of parenting, 3) Escalation of the Sleep Problems: Eliciting a Help-
Seeking Response describes the emotional experiences leading up to helpseeking,
4) Can you get Help for Sleep Problems? describes the limited
knowledge parents had of services, 5) The Context of Parenting a Child with
Disabilities refers to the overarching influence of this context. Conclusions:
The findings are discussed in context with reference to the literature on parental
help-seeking. The implications for future research and clinical practice are
discussed in respect of the strengths and limitations of the study.

Digital Object Identifier (DOI)
Publication dates
PrintAug 2016
Publication process dates
Deposited21 Nov 2016
Publisher's version
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