Time-use diaries are acceptable to parents with a disabled preschool child and are helpful in understanding families' daily lives

M. Thomas*, A. Hunt, M. Hurley, S. Robertson, B. Carter

*Corresponding author for this work

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticle (journal)peer-review

    12 Citations (Scopus)


    Background: In order to provide services for children with disabilities which are family focused, strengthening and enabling families in addition to meeting the child's identified needs, it is important to understand families' lives. This study investigates whether time-use diaries can provide an acceptable tool to explore the daily lives of parents with a disabled child. Methods: A precoded time-use diary divided into 15min time slots was designed. Father-mother pairs with a preschool child with either autism (ASD) or technology dependence (TD) were asked to complete a 7-day diary independently, over the same time period. Each parent was then interviewed separately to ascertain their experiences of using the diary. Participants were identified through their involvement with a Child Development Centre. Results: Twenty-six parents (13 father-mother pairs) were invited to participate. Eighteen parents agreed to be involved; 16 completed the diaries and interviews. Three father-mother pairs in the ASD group and one father-mother pair in the TD group declined to be involved. One father-mother pair from the TD group withdrew from the study. Of the 18 parents who agreed to participate, 15 found the diaries acceptable and either easy or straightforward to complete. One parent with dyslexia and one who described himself as a non-reader completed the diaries successfully, finding the colour coding helpful. Parents spent between 10 and 60min a day completing the diaries, with the median 20-30min. The diaries provided information on the total amount of time spent on different activities and how much time parents spent together, with their other children, at home or elsewhere. Conclusion: The time-use diaries designed for this study were acceptable to the majority of parents and provided detailed information about their daily lives.

    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)168-174
    Number of pages7
    JournalChild: Care, Health and Development
    Issue number2
    Publication statusPublished - 1 Mar 2011


    • Autism
    • Child disability
    • Complex care
    • Fathers
    • Parents
    • Service provision


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