Comparing the effectiveness of a parent group intervention with child-based intervention for promoting playfulness in children with disabilities
Aim: The aims of this pilot study were: (a) to determine the effect size associated with a parent group intervention as compared with individual occupational therapy, for increasing children's playfulness; and (b) to explore parents' experiences of the group intervention. Methods: Families of 40 children aged 2 to 8 years were randomly assigned to two groups. Parents assigned to parent group intervention (n= 21) participated in activities designed to help promote play. Children assigned to individual intervention received therapy using play as a medium. The Test of Playfulness was the outcome measure. Nine parents from the parent group intervention participated in semi-structured interviews; resulting data were analyzed thematically. Results and Discussion: Small to moderate effect sizes were associated with the interventions: 0.15 for the parent group and 0.37 for individual intervention. Qualitative data from parent interviews revealed three themes: (a) Rethinking the value of play; (b) Promoting play; and (c) Parents helping parents. Conclusions: The small effect size associated with the parent group intervention may be the result of a number of factors that require further investigation. Parents' initial reluctance to participate in a group to promote playfulness suggests the need for reframing of the primary roles of occupational therapy with children. Further research is clearly needed.