AIMS: To examine the quality of life (QOL) of parents of children with a specific mental disorder (any age).
METHODS: Relevant articles were searched using different databases. Articles were included that compared the QOL of parents with mentally-ill children to parents of healthy controls or norm values or provided the required data for this comparison. A meta-analysis was conducted to obtain an overall mean effect size estimate. Additional analyses were performed to assess publication bias and moderation.
RESULTS: Twenty-six out of 10 548 articles met the pre-defined inclusion criteria. Most of these studies focused on attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder or autism spectrum disorder, used clinical samples that mainly included males and young children and studied the QOL of mothers. The meta-analysis revealed that parents of mentally-ill children are experiencing a clinically relevant reduction in their QOL relative to parents of healthy children and norm values (g = -0.66).
CONCLUSIONS: The compromised QOL of parents of mentally-ill children needs to be considered and addressed by health professionals who are in contact with them. The paper provides insights into existing research gaps and suggests improvements for subsequent work.