Abstract

Objectives. This study examined the effect of an occupational therapy intervention program for mothers of preschoolers. It was designed to enhance mother–child interaction through play, reduce mothers’ perceived stress, and increase mothers’ knowledge about child development.

Method. Maternal causal attributions for parent–child interaction outcomes, stress, self-concept as educator, and children’s temperament and behavior were measured with standardized questionnaires before, after, and at 18 months follow-up to the intervention program. The intervention comprised a 2.5-hr, 10-week activity-based program that involved 35 mothers and their 2-year-old to 3.5-year-old children in toy making and toy demonstrations. Subjects were assigned to two intervention program (experimental) groups and one control group, which was administered questionnaires but whose members did not attend a program.

Results. No group changes were detected on conclusion of, or allow-up to, the program according to measures of attributions for parent–child interaction outcomes, perceived stress, self-concept as educator, or child temperament and behavior. However, some subjects had substantial score increases in their self-concept as educators of their children. Subjects’ evaluations for each session and the overall program were positive. Feedback from community nurses confirmed that several subjects subsequently used the skills they had learned through the intervention about use of toys and child development to conduct playgroups in the community. Previously undetected developmental or behavioral problems were identified for 8 (23%) of the 35 subjects.

Conclusion. Subjects’ positive responses to the program, the skills they acquired and shared, and identification of problems needing treatment supported the value of the intervention. Lack of quantifiable group changes suggested that qualitative, single-case design evaluations, or both may have been more appropriate methods to assess outcomes.

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