Psychosocial interventions for parents of children with intellectual disabilities–A narrative review and implications for low income settings

Peer-reviewed article
(2019 May) Mental Health and Prevention, 11 24-32


Masulani-Mwale C, Mathanga D, Kauye F & Gladstone M.



Studies have shown a link between parenting children with intellectual disabilities and parental distress. Psychosocial interventions for the parents are available but there are few systematic reviews of the evidence from these studies and how they relate to low income settings (developing or transitional countries).

Research objectives

We aim to review the importance of psychosocial interventions on psychological health among parents of children having intellectual disabilities and discuss the challenges in implementation of these psychological interventions in low income settings.


We did a systematic literature review from 1999 to 2016 using electronic databases, citation tracking, snowball searching as well as recommendations from experts. Exclusion factors included studies not done in English language; those not focused on psychosocial interventions and studies with less than a 50% follow-up rate. Data extraction included; study site, population, intervention, psychological outcome measures assessed, efficacy of intervention and an assessment of the quality of the study.


The search identified 1063 titles. After extraction these were reduced to 21 articles. The interventions have also shown effectiveness in improving parental psychological and general wellbeing, as well as overall quality of life.


Studies from high income settings demonstrate evidence that psychosocial intervention can improve psychological outcomes among the parents of children with these disabilities. There is also evidence to demonstrate how these interventions can improve the parents’ general wellbeing and their overall quality of life. Few robust studies have been conducted in low income settings as yet.