An Evaluation of the Efficacy of Health Education in Preventing Sleep Problems in Infants

Kerr, Susan M (1995) An Evaluation of the Efficacy of Health Education in Preventing Sleep Problems in Infants. ["eprint_fieldopt_thesis_type_MMedSc" not defined] thesis, University of Glasgow.

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Sleep problems in pre-school children are common. Previous studies have demonstrated that approximately 22% of nine month old infants have settling difficulties and that approximately 42% wake regularly during the night. It has been shown that disturbance to a child's sleep pattern often lasts for months, and that persistence for a year or more is not uncommon. In the pre-school years sleeping difficulties are one of the most common topics on which parents seek advice from health professionals. In the majority of cases a sleepless child causes significant stress within the family. If parents do not obtain sufficient sleep this may have a detrimental effect on their physical and emotional wellbeing. In a small number of cases a child who wakes frequently and will not settle back to sleep may be at risk of physical abuse. When considering causal factors the literature highlights a contradictory, uncertain situation. Sleep problems can often be helped by appropriate intervention, both behaviour modification and a psychodynamic approach have been shown to be successful forms of treatment. In recent years it has been suggested that it may be possible to prevent sleep problems developing by providing parents with advice in the post-natal period. Parents have stated that they find this type of intervention helpful, however, there has been no attempt to establish whether a preventive approach is effective. The aim of this research was to evaluate the efficacy of health education in reducing the incidence of sleep problems. The plan was to develop a health education package that, if shown to be effective could easily be incorporated into the everyday work of health visitors. Adopting an experimental approach participants were randomly allocated to a control group or an intervention group. The independent variable, which was the parental knowledge of sleep and settling behaviour, was manipulated when the children in the intervention group were between three and four months old. The dependent variable, which was the sleeping behaviour of the infants, was assessed when the children in both groups were between eight and ten months old. Data was collected from 83 families in the control group and 86 families in the intervention group. A comprehensive analysis of the sleeping behaviour demonstrated that a significantly greater percentage of the control group had settling difficulties and night-waking difficulties than the intervention group. It is considered that this study takes a positive initial step in evaluating whether sleep problems can be prevented. There were some threats to internal and external validity, and so the results should be treated cautiously. Recommendations are made for further research involving health visitors, and also for a longitudinal study to assess the long-term benefits of the preventive approach.

Item Type: Thesis (["eprint_fieldopt_thesis_type_MMedSc" not defined])
Qualification Level: Masters
Additional Information: Adviser: Lorraine Smith
Keywords: Health education
Date of Award: 1995
Depositing User: Enlighten Team
Unique ID: glathesis:1995-76318
Copyright: Copyright of this thesis is held by the author.
Date Deposited: 19 Nov 2019 15:46
Last Modified: 19 Nov 2019 15:46

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