Article Summary: Self Care for Caregivers

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This is a summary of the recent article Self-care in caregivers of children with FASD: How do caregivers care for themselves, and what are the benefits and obstacles for doing so? that is featured in CanFASD’s Top FASD Articles of 2020. For a complete understanding of the subject matter, read the full paper (not available open access).


Caregivers of children with fetal alcohol spectrum disorder (FASD) have significantly high levels of stress, even more so than caregivers of children with other developmental disabilities.  This stress can negatively impact their physical and mental health, can affect their child’s behaviour and relationships, and can negatively impact family functioning.

Finding stress management techniques for caregivers of children with FASD is very important. Self-care is an important resource to improve caregiver physical and mental health. However, there have not been any previous studies that looked at what caregivers of children with FASD are doing to take care of themselves, and if those strategies work.


The researchers in this study surveyed 46 caregivers of children with FASD to understand what these caregivers do for self-care, the obstacles they face, and how they feel about their own self-care. They found that:

  • Caregivers used various self-care strategies that could be classified into 7 different categories: being present, seeking social support, maintaining physical health, engaging in hobbies, consuming media, treating oneself to small luxuries, and seeking information.
  • Common obstacles to self-care included time constraints, lack of resources, family needs and challenges, exhaustion, health issues, mood, logistics, and pride.
  • Caregivers with higher confidence in self-care had higher family needs met, lower parental distress, and higher satisfaction as a caregiver.
  • The more frequently caregivers practiced self-care, the more confident they were in their self-care.
  • The frequency of self-care wasn’t associated with any other measure of their family functioning.

This paper is the first of its kind to describe caregiver strategies for self-care and the obstacles they face. The strategies identified in this paper can help inform clinical work to better support caregivers of children with FASD. Interventions to reduce stress in caregivers should keep in mind the obstacles they’ve identified and the current strategies they use.

Authors: Carson Kautz, Jennifer Parr, and Christie L.M. Petrenko

Date: 31 January 2020

Journal: Research in Developmental Disabilities

Read the full article (not available open access)

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