YOU MIND plus [Seed Funding]

Parenting a child with a neuromuscular disorder is associated with unique parental demands and challenges. This may lead to increased parental emotional distress. Dr. Van der Gucht, Dr. Erbas and Dr. Houben will conduct a study evaluating a smartphone application-based intervention centered on mindfulness to support the psychological well-being of both parents and child.

Children with a neuromuscular disorder and their parents often experience psychological complaints such as stress, sleep problems, depression and anxiety. Parents report to feel a sense of helplessness: they want to help their child, but often do not know how. Mindfulness-Based Interventions (MBIs) have been found to improve symptoms of emotional stress, improve coping and overall quality of life for parents of children with a chronic condition. This is not only important for the parents but is also in the best interest of the child. 

The team developed an easily accessible and innovative mobile application based on mindfulness. The content is theory driven and the app offers guided meditations and background information using different formats including audio files and text supported by graphic figures. The application includes two modules: one module tailored for children where they can practice alone or together with their parents, and a second module with exercises for the parents. 

The usefulness and potential impact of the app will be tested in a randomized controlled trial with open enrollment and two parallel arms, comparing an app-based mindfulness program (YOU-MINDplus) and an attention control app. Eighty children, ages six through 14, with a diagnosis of a neuromuscular disorder and their parents will be invited to participate. Participants are encouraged to practice daily over a 30-day period. Assessments take place before randomization, after 2, 4, 6 and 8 weeks. Measurements are done using experience sampling (momentary outcomes in daily life) and questionnaires (trait outcomes).

This project is the result of a collaboration between the Departments of Developmental Psychology (DP) and Medical and Clinical Psychology (MCP) and combining expertise in mindfulness and psychological well-being.

Dr. Katleen Van der Gucht (DP) examines the impact and working mechanisms of mindfulness-based interventions in various target groups (clinical, non-clinical, adolescents, adults). Together with colleagues she developed the YOU.MINDplus app.

Dr. Yasemin Erbas (DP) studies the relationship between emotional functioning and psychological well-being. Yasemin is also the mother of a son with a neuromuscular disorder and is a patient advocate. Combining her professional experience with her experience as a mom and patient advocate, she will ensure that the application remains both evidence-based and patient-relevant. Her network in the patient community will provide access to the required participants. 

Dr. Marlies Houben (MKP) examines emotional change in daily life and its underlying mechanisms (including emotion regulation processes) in relation to psychopathology. Moreover, she is an expert in the ESM methodology.

Cross-cutting themes

The Herbert Simon Research Institute for Health, Well-being, and Adaptiveness is a research center devoted to carrying out excellent, state of the art research in order to contribute to healthy and resilient people. We have selected three themes, which involve the collaboration between various Departments  and address actual themes in need of both fundamental and applied research.