What is it about?

This study examined how different demographic factors relate to parent satisfaction with therapy services for children with disabilities during the COVID-19 pandemic. We found that access to telehealth was associated with greater parent satisfaction, both in terms of overall satisfaction and satisfaction with the family-provider partnership. However, only receiving therapies through special education, parent[s] having an advanced degree, parents serving as essential workers, and having more children in the house were all negatively associated with parent satisfaction.

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Why is it important?

The novel coronavirus pandemic (COVID-19) has impacted all families. However, the COVID-19 pandemic particularly impacted families of children with disabilities as a result of interruptions to in-person therapeutic services (e.g., physical therapy, occupational therapy, psychological services, speech/language therapy, etc). These services help children with disabilities learn new skills and better navigate their environments. If children experience large gaps in these services, they can experience long-term developmental consequences. In order to best tailor services to families' unique needs, particularly during periods of service disruption like the COVID-19 pandemic, clinicians need to understand what family characteristics are related to both high and low service satisfaction. When they understand what characteristics relate to satisfaction, clinicians can better tailor treatment plans to support children and families in getting the best services possible. This study identifies specific family characteristics associated with satisfaction, providing useful insight to support more equitable, tailored treatment planning for families during future periods of service disruption.


Stay-at-home orders during the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic forced many parents to take on a much more active role in the delivery of therapy services for their children with disabilities. Thus, it is critical to understand parents’ experiences, as well as differences in experiences based on different family factors, to optimize the delivery of therapy services. By understanding which families might need more tailored supports to interact with therapies, providers can maximize the impact of these important therapies while allocating limited resources equitably and efficiently to best support all children.

Ashley Murphy
Northwestern University

Read the Original

This page is a summary of: Parent satisfaction with the parent-provider partnership and therapy service delivery for children with disabilities during COVID-19: Associations with sociodemographic variables., Families Systems & Health, June 2022, American Psychological Association (APA), DOI: 10.1037/fsh0000720.
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