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Psychometric Properties of the New Working Parent Burnout Scale

      Introduction

      Parental burnout is an underrecognized condition with adverse consequences for parents and children. The objective of this study was to determine the psychometric properties of a new scale, the Working Parent Burnout Scale, and a concurrent one-item assessment.

      Method

      A cross-sectional survey was conducted. The sample included parents (N = 1,285) living with children < 18 years. Content, face, construct, and predictive validity and reliability were established.

      Results

      Cronbach α was 0.90 with the elimination of item four on the scale. All factor loadings were > 0.40. The one-factor model was supported by confirmatory factor analysis. The Pearson r correlation was 0.59 for the total score on the original 10-item burnout scale (item 4 excluded) and the one-item assessment.

      Discussion

      These are the first known scales to measure working parent burnout. By better identifying parental burnout, preventive and interventional approaches can be initiated to enhance parent and child outcomes.

      KEY WORDS

      INTRODUCTION

      Parental burnout, defined as parenting stress that severely and chronically overwhelms a parents’ resources to cope with stress, is a prevalent problem for families worldwide. It has been shown to have adverse effects on both parents and children (
      • Mikolajczak M.
      • Roskam I.
      Parental burnout: Moving the focus from children to parents.
      ). Disruptions in caregiving and role responsibilities, including homeschooling children during the COVID-19 pandemic, have further contributed to the stressors and burnout experienced by parents, especially for those who work. Ninety-one percent of adults have reported that their lives have changed since the beginning of the pandemic, whereas almost half (44%) have said that their lives have changed in major ways (

      Pew Research Center. (2020). About half of lower income Americans report household job or wage loss due to COVID-19. Retrieved from:https://www.pewresearch.org/social-trends/2020/04/21/about-half-of-lower-income-americans-report-household-job-or-wage-loss-due-to-covid-19/

      ). In addition to the added stressors of disrupted childcare and school schedules, many families face additional hardships, including job loss, income loss, food insecurity, and illness (
      • Gassman-Pines A.
      • Ananat E.O.
      • Fitz-Henley 2nd, J.
      COVID-19 and parent–child psychological well-being.
      ;
      • Patrick S.W.
      • Henkhaus L.E.
      • Zickafoose J.S.
      • Lovell K.
      • Halvorson A.
      • Loch S.
      • Davis M.M.
      Well-being of parents and children during the COVID-19 pandemic: A national survey.
      ). Both children and parents report worsening and persistent mental and behavioral health conditions with increases in health care claims for mental health disorders (
      • Czeisler M.É.
      • Lane R.I.
      • Wiley J.F.
      • Czeisler C.A.
      • Howard M.E.
      • Rajaratnam S.M.W.
      Follow-up survey of US adult reports of mental health, substance use, and suicidal ideation during the COVID-19 pandemic, September 2020.
      ;
      • Patrick S.W.
      • Henkhaus L.E.
      • Zickafoose J.S.
      • Lovell K.
      • Halvorson A.
      • Loch S.
      • Davis M.M.
      Well-being of parents and children during the COVID-19 pandemic: A national survey.
      ).
      Parental burnout results from a chronic imbalance of risks over resources (
      • Mikolajczak M.
      • Roskam I.
      A theoretical and clinical framework for parental burnout: The balance between risks and resources (BR 2).
      ;
      • Mikolajczak M.
      • Roskam I.
      Parental burnout: Moving the focus from children to parents.
      ). Symptoms of parental stress can be variable and often include reported feelings of exhaustion, emotional detachment from their children, loss of joy/pleasure in parenting, and a feeling that they are not the parent they once were and want to be (
      • Mikolajczak M.
      • Roskam I.
      Parental burnout: Moving the focus from children to parents.
      ;
      • Roskam I.
      • Brianda M.E.
      • Mikolajczak M.
      A step forward in the conceptualization and measurement of parental burnout: The parental burnout assessment (PBA).
      ). Similar to job burnout, parental burnout can also include a higher likelihood of addiction and sleep problems, increased spousal or significant other conflicts, and escape and suicidal ideation (
      • Blanchard M.A.
      • Heeren A.
      Why we should move from reductionism and embrace a network approach to parental burnout.
      ;
      • Mikolajczak M.
      • Brianda M.E.
      • Avalosse H.
      • Roskam I.
      Consequences of parental burnout: Its specific effect on child neglect and violence.
      ). Suicidal and escape ideations have been found to occur more frequently in parental burnout than in job burnout or even depression (
      • Mikolajczak M.
      • Gross J.J.
      • Roskam I.
      Parental burnout: What is it, and why does it matter?.
      ).
      Parental burnout also has been shown to have a specific adverse effect on child-related outcomes, including a higher likelihood of neglect and violence (
      • Griffith A.K.
      Parental burnout and child maltreatment during the COVID-19 pandemic.
      ;
      • Mikolajczak M.
      • Brianda M.E.
      • Avalosse H.
      • Roskam I.
      Consequences of parental burnout: Its specific effect on child neglect and violence.
      ). In particular, parents who work full-time report higher levels of work-family conflict (
      • Cho Y.
      The effects of nonstandard work schedules on workers’ health: A mediating role of work-to-family conflict.
      ;
      • McLoyd V.C.
      • Toyokawa T.
      • Kaplan R.
      Work demands, work–family conflict, and child adjustment in African American families: The mediating role of family routines.
      ;
      • Moreira H.
      • Fonseca A.
      • Caiado B.
      • Canavarro M.C.
      Work-family conflict and mindful parenting: The mediating role of parental psychopathology symptoms and parenting stress in a sample of Portuguese employed parents.
      ). Work-family conflict occurs when a parent's limited resources of time and energy are overtaxed with competing demands and obligations from both family and work. This work-family interface is so significant that it is considered a powerful social determinant of mental health in both parents and children (
      • Moreira H.
      • Fonseca A.
      • Caiado B.
      • Canavarro M.C.
      Work-family conflict and mindful parenting: The mediating role of parental psychopathology symptoms and parenting stress in a sample of Portuguese employed parents.
      ). Work-family conflict can adversely affect work, nonwork, and personal outcomes. It has been linked to increased job turnover, decreased job satisfaction, and organizational commitment (
      • Allen T.D.
      • Herst D.E.
      • Bruck C.S.
      • Sutton M.
      Consequences associated with work-to-family conflict: A review and agenda for future research.
      ). It has been shown to lead to symptoms of burnout in parents, including fatigue, emotional distress, and emotional withdrawal from their children. Parental burnout also has been linked to behavioral problems and deterioration of mental health in children (
      • Cho Y.
      The effects of nonstandard work schedules on workers’ health: A mediating role of work-to-family conflict.
      ;
      • McLoyd V.C.
      • Toyokawa T.
      • Kaplan R.
      Work demands, work–family conflict, and child adjustment in African American families: The mediating role of family routines.
      ;
      • Moreira H.
      • Fonseca A.
      • Caiado B.
      • Canavarro M.C.
      Work-family conflict and mindful parenting: The mediating role of parental psychopathology symptoms and parenting stress in a sample of Portuguese employed parents.
      ).
      Parental burnout symptoms are different from mental health disorders. An article by Sánchez-Rodríguez and colleagues argues that parental burnout, depression and anxiety are distinct disorders (
      • Sánchez-Rodríguez R.
      • Orsini É.
      • Laflaquière E.
      • Callahan S.
      • Séjourné N.
      Depression, anxiety, and guilt in mothers with burnout of preschool and school-aged children: Insight from a cluster analysis.
      ). Therefore, separately identifying each of these disorders in parents is imperative to improving parental and child outcomes.
      There are two widely used, validated parental burnout scales available—the Parental Burnout Inventory and the Parental Burnout Assessment (PBA;
      • Roskam I.
      • Raes M.E.
      • Mikolajczak M.
      Exhausted parents: Development and preliminary validation of the parental burnout inventory.
      ;
      • Roskam I.
      • Brianda M.E.
      • Mikolajczak M.
      A step forward in the conceptualization and measurement of parental burnout: The parental burnout assessment (PBA).
      ). However, to our knowledge, there has not been a scale developed to specifically measure working parent burnout. The 22-item Parental Burnout Inventory has three subscales: emotional exhaustion, emotional distancing, and loss of parental efficiency, with emotional distancing being an especially potent determinant of activating all other facets of parental burnout. These subscales together calculate a global score. Cronbach α is 0.91 for the global score and 0.92 (emotional exhaustion), 0.89 (emotional distancing), 0.85 (loss of parental efficacy) for the three subscales. The PBA emphasizes the loss of pleasure in parenting and in being with their children and less emphasis on parental efficiency (
      • Roskam I.
      • Raes M.E.
      • Mikolajczak M.
      Exhausted parents: Development and preliminary validation of the parental burnout inventory.
      ). The 23-item PBA has been validated across cultures and countries. Internal consistency for the total scale was excellent (Cronbach α = 0.97–0.98) and for the subscales from adequate (≥ 0.70) to excellent (≥ 0.90;
      • Aunola K.
      • Sorkkila M.
      • Tolvanen A.
      Validity of the Finnish version of the Parental Burnout Assessment (PBA).
      ;
      • Gannagé M.
      • Besson E.
      • Harfouche J.
      • Roskam I.
      • Mikolajczak M.
      Parental burnout in Lebanon: Validation psychometric properties of the Lebanese Arabic version of the Parental Burnout Assessment.
      ;

      Roskam, I., Aguiar, J., Akgun, E., Arikan, G., Artavia, M., Avalosse, H., ... Mikolajczak, M. (2021). Parental Burnout Around the Globe: a 42-Country Study. Affective science, 2, 58–79.

      ).
      The objective of this study was to determine the psychometric properties (i.e., validity and reliability) of a newly developed Working Parent Burnout Scale (WPBS) and assess its convergent validity with a 1-item assessment.

      METHODS

      Design

      An online anonymous cross-sectional survey was the design used for this study. The 11-item WPBS and 1-item assessment were incorporated as part of a longer online survey that included questions about demographics, social constructs, mental health, lifestyle behaviors, coping mechanisms, and parenting practices. Exempt status was obtained by the authors’ Institutional Review Board.

      Population and Recruitment

      The participant sample included parents who had at least one child aged ≤ 18 years living with them when the survey was completed. Participants were recruited via e-mail, online ads, and social media that included a link to the online survey. Most participants were employees of a large public land-grant university in the midwest, including an academic medical center. All participants provided online consent before participation in the study. The survey was self-reported, voluntary, and anonymous. Responses to the survey were collected between January 19, 2021 and April 28, 2021.

      Instrumentation

      Along with demographic data and questions about healthy lifestyle behaviors, coping strategies, and parenting practices, several valid and reliable instruments were embedded in the survey.

      Working Parent Burnout Scale

      The WPBS was created by a thorough review of the literature and input from an expert in pediatrics, parenting, and scale development. The scale contains 11 Likert-scale items (see Supplementary Box). Participants respond to each item on a scale from 0 (not at all) to 4 (very much so). Face, content, and construct validity were established through the psychometric analyses. A one-item assessment also was created to determine if it could be used as a very brief screen for working parent burnout (see Supplementary Data).

      Patient Health Questionnaire-2

      The Patient Health Questionnaire-2 (PHQ-2) is a well-known valid, and reliable scale that screens for depressive symptoms. A two-item instrument asks participants the following questions: how often have you been bothered by any of the following problems: (1) little interest or pleasure in doing things; or (2) feeling down, depressed, or hopeless? The instrument has good sensitivity (0.79) and specificity (0.86) for detecting any depressive disorder (
      • Löwe B.
      • Kroenke K.
      • Gräfe K.
      Detecting and monitoring depression with a two-item questionnaire (PHQ-2).
      ).

      Generalized Anxiety Disorder-2 (GAD-2)

      The Generalized Anxiety Disorder-2 (GAD-2) is a two-item instrument in which participants rate their anxiety levels by answering the following questions: over the last 2 weeks, how often have you been bothered by the following problems: (1) feeling nervous, anxious, or on edge; or (2) not being able to stop or control worrying? The psychometric properties of the instrument have been tested in a variety of populations and settings across time. The literature demonstrates good sensitivity (0.76) and specificity (0.81) for generalized anxiety disorder (
      • Plummer F.
      • Manea L.
      • Trepel D.
      • McMillan D.
      Screening for anxiety disorders with the GAD-7 and GAD-2: A systematic review and diagnostic metaanalysis.
      ).

      Statistical Analysis

      Descriptive statistics were used to summarize sample characteristics and the distributions of parent burnout items. Internal consistency was first assessed with a Cronbach α. Exploratory factor analysis (EFA) with oblimin rotation was conducted to explore the latent structure underlying the 11-item parent burnout scale and exclude items that any potential factor models could not explain. The factor structure derived from the EFA was examined by confirmatory factor analysis (CFA). Comparative fit index (CFI), Tucker-Lewis index (TLI), root mean square error of approximation (RMSEA), and standardized root mean square residual (SRMR) were used to evaluate the model fit. A CFI > 0.95, a TLI > 0.90, an RMSEA < 0.08 and an SRMR < 0.05 were considered acceptable. The total score of the original burnout scale and the fitted score in the CFA model were correlated with the 1-item WPBS by Pearson's correlation. Pearson correlation was checked among the total score of parent burnout items, PHQ-2 score for depression, and GAD-2 score for anxiety to verify the predictive validity. All the statistical analyses were conducted in R 4.0.4.

      RESULTS

      Sample Characteristics

      The survey was completed by 1,285 parents. Most of the parents were aged 30–39 years (48.3%) or 40–49 years (38.8%), White (87.9%), female (87.7%), in their first marriage (75.3%), and the biological parents to at least one of their children (95.3%). Eighty-three percent worked full time, 46.1% from home, and 36.9% in person. Most of the parents had one or two children (35% and 46.2%), and most (52.4%) had no children aged < 5 years. Sixty-five percent reported concerning symptoms of burnout (≥ 3) on the 1-item scale. Sample characteristics are detailed in Table 1.
      TABLE 1Survey sample characteristics (N = 1,285)
      Characteristicsn (%)
      The percentages are based on nonmissing values.
      Age, years
       < 3055 (4.3%)
       30–39620 (48.3%)
       40–49498 (38.8%)
       ≥ 50111 (8.6%)
      Race/ethnicity
       Black73 (5.7%)
       White1,130 (87.9%)
       Other82 (6.4%)
      Sex
       Female only1,126 (87.7%)
       Male only148 (11.5%)
       Other10 (0.8%)
      Marital status
       Single70 (5.5%)
       Married, first time967 (75.3%)
       Married, second time or more90 (7%)
       Separated18 (1.4%)
       Divorced83 (6.5%)
       Single but live with a significant other56 (4.4%)
      Biological parent
       No61 (4.7%)
       Yes1,224 (95.3%)
      Work status
       Full-time stay at home17 (1.3%)
       Work from home part-time39 (3%)
       Work in-person part-time64 (5%)
       Work from home full time592 (46.1%)
       Work in-person full time474 (36.9%)
       Other99 (7.7%)
      No. of children under the age of 18 (recoded)
       1448 (35%)
       2592 (46.2%)
       ≥ 3240 (18.8%)
      No. of children under the age of 5 (recoded)
       0671 (52.4%)
       1429 (33.5%)
       ≥ 2181 (14.1%)
      Burnout (1 item scale)
       158 (4.5%)
       2393 (30.6%)
       3601 (46.8%)
       4159 (12.4%)
       574 (5.8%)
      a The percentages are based on nonmissing values.

      Face Validity

      Eight parents (four fathers and four mothers), who work in full-time positions, evaluated the 11-item WPBS and the 1-item assessment for face validity. They were asked the following questions about each of the individual items/questions on the scale: (1) Does the item tap working parental burnout? Why or why not?; and (2) Is the item clearly written? Why or why not? If not, how would you write the item more clearly?
      Suggestions and modifications were incorporated into each item to decrease ambiguity and ensure content accurately depicted parental burnout in the working parent.

      Content Validity

      Content validity was then established by eight expert pediatric clinicians who evaluated the 11-item WPBS and the 1-item assessment. The same questions as above were posed to the clinicians. One question was eliminated because of the feedback. Almost all the questions were slightly modified to improve clarity. Three of the questions were flipped to incorporate reverse scoring and improve results.

      Exploratory Factor Analysis

      The working parent burnout items had mean scores ranging from 0.87 for item 5 (I find joy in parenting my children [reversed]) to 2.53 for item 10 (I feel overwhelmed trying to balance my job and parenting responsibilities). The scree plot suggested a one- or two-factor model with two eigenvalues > 1 (see Figure 1). Both the one-factor and the two-factor models were explored. In both models, item 4 (I am able to take breaks for self-care [reversed]) was not well explained (factor loading < 0.4); thus, it was excluded from the following analysis. The EFA was reconducted with item 4 excluded, and the one-factor model was found to be satisfactory because all factor loadings were > 0.4 (see Table 2). Therefore, the one-factor model was retained for CFA.
      FIGURE 1
      FIGURE 1Scree plot before and after excluding item 4
      TABLE 2Factor loadings from exploratory factor analysis
      Item 4 includedItem 4 excluded
      Two-factor modelTwo-factor model
      Item and labelMean ± SDOne-factor modelFactor 1Factor 2One-factor modelFactor 1Factor 2
      Item 1: I get/feel easily irritated with my children2.00 ± 1.190.780.82−0.010.790.810.01
      Item 2: I feel that I am not the good parent that I used to be to my children1.78 ± 1.400.800.610.260.810.620.25
      Item 3: I wake up exhausted at the thought of another day with my children1.19 ± 1.290.700.680.060.700.690.04
      Item 4: I am able to take breaks for self-care (reversed)2.35 ± 1.200.320.110.27NANANA
      Item 5: I find joy in parenting my children (reversed)0.87 ± 0.980.480.68−0.200.480.70−0.23
      Item 6: I have guilt about being a working parent, which affects how I parent my children2.25 ± 1.420.52−0.110.790.51−0.090.79
      Item 7: I feel like I am in survival mode as a parent2.25 ± 1.410.770.300.600.760.330.57
      Item 8: parenting my children is stressful2.16 ± 1.190.790.630.220.790.630.22
      Item 9: I lose my temper easily with my children1.49 ± 1.190.770.83−0.030.770.82−0.01
      Item 10: I feel overwhelmed trying to balance my job and parenting responsibilities2.53 ± 1.340.680.110.730.680.140.71
      Item 11: I am doing a good job being a parent (reversed)1.43 ± 0.990.540.530.040.540.550.00
      Note. NA, not applicable.

      Internal Reliability

      Item 4 (I am able to take breaks for self-care), item 5 (I find joy in parenting my children), and item 11 (I am doing a good job being a parent) were negatively correlated with the total score of the 11-item parent burnout scale, so they were reversed scored (0 = 4, 1 = 3, 2 = 2, 3 = 1, and 4 = 0). The calculated Cronbach α was 0.89, indicating good internal consistency reliability. The deletion of item 4 resulted in a Cronbach α of 0.90.

      Confirmatory Factor Analysis

      Figure 2 presents the fitted model from CFA. The model included correlated items: item 1 (I get/feel easily irritated with my children) and item 9 (I lose my temper easily with my children); item 2 (That you are not the good parent that you used to be to your children) and item 8 (Parenting my children is stressful); item 5 (I find joy in parenting my children [reversed]) and item 11 (I am doing a good job being a parent [reversed]);and item 6 (I have guilt about being a working parent, which affects how I parent my children), item 7 (I feel like I am in survival mode as a parent), and item 10 (I feel overwhelmed trying to balance my job and parenting responsibilities). The factor loadings ranged from 0.46 to 0.85. The results indicated a good model fit (CFI = 0.966; TLI = 0.947; RMSEA = 0.079; and SRMR = 0.037). The Pearson correlation between the fitted score and the 1-item parent burnout scale (i.e., name the item) was 0.53, whereas the correlation was 0.59 for the total score of the original 10-item burnout scale (item 4 excluded) and the 1-item burnout scale.
      FIGURE 2
      FIGURE 2Diagram from confirmatory factor analysis

      Predictive Validity

      The Pearson's correlation was checked for the total score of the 10-item parent burnout scale (item 4 excluded), PHQ-2 score for depression, and GAD-2 score for anxiety (see Table 3). The burnout scale had moderate correlations with depression (r = 0.45) and anxiety (r = 0.47).
      TABLE 3Pearson's correlation among the total score of the 10-item parent burnout scale, depression Patient Health Questionnaire-2 score, and anxiety Generalized Anxiety Disorder-2 score
      VariablesMeanSDBurnoutDepressionAnxiety
      Burnout17.959.021.000.450.47
      Depression1.381.470.451.000.60
      Anxiety2.131.620.470.601.00

      DISCUSSION

      Parental burnout is a prevalent problem with significant consequences for both parents and children, including violent and neglectful behavior toward one's children (
      • Blanchard M.A.
      • Heeren A.
      Why we should move from reductionism and embrace a network approach to parental burnout.
      ;
      • Griffith A.K.
      Parental burnout and child maltreatment during the COVID-19 pandemic.
      ;
      • Mikolajczak M.
      • Brianda M.E.
      • Avalosse H.
      • Roskam I.
      Consequences of parental burnout: Its specific effect on child neglect and violence.
      ). Working parents have unique situations that can further exacerbate stress, increase work-family conflict, and put them at higher risk for parental burnout (
      • Allen T.D.
      • Herst D.E.
      • Bruck C.S.
      • Sutton M.
      Consequences associated with work-to-family conflict: A review and agenda for future research.
      ;
      • Cho Y.
      The effects of nonstandard work schedules on workers’ health: A mediating role of work-to-family conflict.
      ;
      • Lebert-Charron A.
      • Dorard G.
      • Boujut E.
      • Wendland J.
      Maternal burnout syndrome: Contextual and psychological associated factors.
      ;
      • McLoyd V.C.
      • Toyokawa T.
      • Kaplan R.
      Work demands, work–family conflict, and child adjustment in African American families: The mediating role of family routines.
      ;
      • Moreira H.
      • Fonseca A.
      • Caiado B.
      • Canavarro M.C.
      Work-family conflict and mindful parenting: The mediating role of parental psychopathology symptoms and parenting stress in a sample of Portuguese employed parents.
      ). Parents who work have different needs, may require different resources, and may exhibit different symptoms of burnout from those who do not work. Although occasional symptoms of parental burnout can be experienced by any parent, the number and frequency of burnout symptoms, determine the severity of burnout, which can be directly linked to adverse outcomes and lifelong repercussions (
      • Gilbert R.
      • Widom C.S.
      • Browne K.
      • Fergusson D.
      • Webb E.
      • Janson S.
      Burden and consequences of child maltreatment in high-income countries.
      ;
      • Mikolajczak M.
      • Roskam I.
      Parental burnout: Moving the focus from children to parents.
      ;
      • Mikolajczak M.
      • Brianda M.E.
      • Avalosse H.
      • Roskam I.
      Consequences of parental burnout: Its specific effect on child neglect and violence.
      ).
      Parental burnout is preventable with certain parental coping skills and resources. When family/work conflict improves, there is an improvement in children's mental health (
      • Moreira H.
      • Fonseca A.
      • Caiado B.
      • Canavarro M.C.
      Work-family conflict and mindful parenting: The mediating role of parental psychopathology symptoms and parenting stress in a sample of Portuguese employed parents.
      ). Individual and societal interventions have shown promise in treating parental burnout. Having trained clinicians intentionally work with parents to help restore the balance between their parental stressors and their available resources has shown to be effective in decreasing parental burnout. Teaching parents how to better cope with parental stress and burnout through resiliency building interventions, such as cognitive behavioral skills building, positive reframing, mindfulness, yoga, and gratitude, are protective in preventing and decreasing burnout, depression, and stress in other populations so they may translate to the working parent population (
      • Bisht S.
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      Impact of yoga based lifestyle intervention on psychological stress and quality of life in the parents of children with retinoblastoma.
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      ). Creating an open listening environment, similar to a support group, for parents to discuss parenting with other parents also has demonstrated the ability to decrease the frequency of neglectful and violent behaviors toward their children over time (
      • Chen M.
      • Chan K.L.
      Effects of parenting programs on child maltreatment prevention: A meta-analysis.
      ;
      • Munns A.
      • Watts R.
      • Hegney D.
      • Walker R.
      Effectiveness and experiences of families and support workers participating in peer-led parenting support programs delivered as home visiting programs: A comprehensive systematic review.
      ;
      • Thorslund K.
      • Alfredsson E.
      • Axberg U.
      Universal parental support for parents of adolescents: Who wants municipality-based parental support and in what form?.
      ). Identifying and treating co-occurring mental health disorders, including depression and anxiety, in parents can also help with improving parent–child relationships, improving parental emotional regulation, improving mental and behavioral problems in children, and decreasing parents’ child-directed hostility and negativity (
      • Bellina M.
      • Grazioli S.
      • Garzitto M.
      • Mauri M.
      • Rosi E.
      • Molteni M.
      • Nobile M.
      Relationship between parenting measures and parents and child psychopathological symptoms: A cross-sectional study.
      ;
      • Coiro M.J.
      • Riley A.
      • Broitman M.
      • Miranda J.
      Effects on children of treating their mothers’ depression: Results of a 12-month follow-up.
      ;
      • Dougherty L.R.
      • Tolep M.R.
      • Smith V.C.
      • Rose S.
      Early exposure to parental depression and parenting: Associations with young offspring's stress physiology and oppositional behavior.
      ;
      • Eckshtain D.
      • Kuppens S.
      • Weisz J.R.
      Amelioration of child depression through behavioral parent training: A preliminary study.
      ;
      • Everett Y.
      • Martin C.G.
      • Zalewski M.
      A systematic review focusing on psychotherapeutic interventions that impact parental psychopathology, child psychopathology and parenting behavior.
      ;
      • Garber J.
      • Ciesla J.A.
      • McCauley E.
      • Diamond G.
      • Schloredt K.A.
      Remission of depression in parents: Links to healthy functioning in their children.
      ;
      • Merwin S.M.
      • Barrios C.
      • Smith V.C.
      • Lemay Jr., E.P.
      • Dougherty L.R
      Outcomes of early parent–child adrenocortical attunement in the high-risk offspring of depressed parents.
      ;
      • Merwin S.M.
      • Leppert K.A.
      • Smith V.C.
      • Dougherty L.R.
      Parental depression and parent and child stress physiology: Moderation by parental hostility.
      ;
      • Weijers D.
      • van Steensel F.J.A.
      • Bögels S.M.
      Associations between psychopathology in mothers, fathers and their children: A structural modeling approach.
      ).
      Societal and population interventions also can play an important role in reducing parental stress and burnout. Western countries, particularly those with an individualistic culture, have a noticeably higher prevalence and mean level of parental burnout than countries that value the needs of the group as a whole over the individual. EuroAmerican countries make up the overwhelming majority of countries that value the individualistic culture, which may foster the demand for perfection in parenting (

      Roskam, I., Aguiar, J., Akgun, E., Arikan, G., Artavia, M., Avalosse, H., ... Mikolajczak, M. (2021). Parental Burnout Around the Globe: a 42-Country Study. Affective science, 2, 58–79.

      ). Parents must deal with academic performance testing, social comparisons, and multiple extracurricular activities. Many parents in western societies well-intentionally seek to optimize the development of their children by providing their children with multiple opportunities, often creating an environment in which children are rushed to activity after activity with little downtime to have free and outdoor play, which can be very detrimental to child mental health (
      • Bergen D.
      The “play deficit” discovered by physicians! Implications for policy and practice.
      ;
      • Brown S.L.
      • Nobiling B.D.
      • Teufel J.
      • Birch D.A.
      Are kids too busy?: Early adolescents’ perceptions of discretionary activities, overscheduling, and stress.
      ;
      • Mygind L.
      • Kjeldsted E.
      • Hartmeyer R.
      • Mygind E.
      • Bølling M.
      • Bentsen P.
      Mental, physical and social health benefits of immersive nature-experience for children and adolescents: A systematic review and quality assessment of the evidence.
      ;
      • Schiffrin H.H.
      • Godfrey H.
      • Liss M.
      • Erchull M.J.
      Intensive parenting: Does it have the desired impact on child outcomes?.
      ;
      • Whitebread D.
      Free play and children's mental health.
      ). Creating a society that places less value and stress on parents and children to perform would be preferable, but these types of societal changes often take time and are difficult to achieve. A more feasible option is to educate parents about the importance of free play and time management (sharing rides, avoiding overscheduling extracurricular activities, etc.). Providing a greater number of available and low-cost resources and support for parents at the local, state, and national level is also a feasible population intervention. Making evidence-based parenting programs universally free and available is an easy and cost-effective intervention that could improve parent and child outcomes (
      • Guastaferro K.
      • Lutzker J.R.
      The prevention of child maltreatment: Using SafeCare® to highlight successes and needs for improvement in prevention efforts.
      ;
      • Gubbels J.
      • van der Put C.E.
      • Assink M.
      The effectiveness of parent training programs for child maltreatment and their components: A meta-analysis.
      ;
      • Hurlburt M.S.
      • Nguyen K.
      • Reid J.
      • Webster-Stratton C.
      • Zhang J.
      Efficacy of the Incredible Years group parent program with families in Head Start who self-reported a history of child maltreatment.
      ).
      However, many of the interventions listed above did not specifically target working parents. Employers may be an important conduit for preventing and addressing parental burnout in the working parent population. Corporate policies that are supportive of a work-life balance, flexible work arrangements, and offer childcare services could help to mitigate some of the parental stress associated with being a working parent (
      • Almeida D.M.
      • Davis K.D.
      Workplace flexibility and daily stress processes in hotel employees and their children.
      ;
      • Borgh M.
      • Eek F.
      • Wagman P.
      • Håkansson C.
      Organisational factors and occupational balance in working parents in Sweden.
      ;
      • Eek F.
      • Axmon A.
      Attitude and flexibility are the most important work place factors for working parents’ mental wellbeing, stress, and work engagement.
      ;
      Eurofound
      Working time developments in the 21st century: Work duration and its regulation in the EU.
      ;
      • Moreira H.
      • Fonseca A.
      • Caiado B.
      • Canavarro M.C.
      Work-family conflict and mindful parenting: The mediating role of parental psychopathology symptoms and parenting stress in a sample of Portuguese employed parents.
      ;
      • Riedmann A.
      • Bielenski H.
      • Szczurowska T.
      • Wagner A.
      Working time and work-life balance in European companies: Establishment Survey on Working Time 2004–2005.
      ;
      • Thévenon О.
      • Adema W.
      • Clarke C.
      Be Flexible! Background brief on how workplace flexibility can help European employees to balance work and family.
      ). Flexible work schedules, in particular, are protective in parenting by promoting a better work-life balance. Parents with flexible work schedules have improved self-regulation when interacting with their children, report a better relationship with their children, and can avoid missing important moments in their children's lives (
      • Almeida D.M.
      • Davis K.D.
      Workplace flexibility and daily stress processes in hotel employees and their children.
      ;
      • Borgh M.
      • Eek F.
      • Wagman P.
      • Håkansson C.
      Organisational factors and occupational balance in working parents in Sweden.
      ;
      • Eek F.
      • Axmon A.
      Attitude and flexibility are the most important work place factors for working parents’ mental wellbeing, stress, and work engagement.
      ;
      Eurofound
      Working time developments in the 21st century: Work duration and its regulation in the EU.
      ;
      • Moreira H.
      • Fonseca A.
      • Caiado B.
      • Canavarro M.C.
      Work-family conflict and mindful parenting: The mediating role of parental psychopathology symptoms and parenting stress in a sample of Portuguese employed parents.
      ;
      • Riedmann A.
      • Bielenski H.
      • Szczurowska T.
      • Wagner A.
      Working time and work-life balance in European companies: Establishment Survey on Working Time 2004–2005.
      );
      • Thévenon О.
      • Adema W.
      • Clarke C.
      Be Flexible! Background brief on how workplace flexibility can help European employees to balance work and family.
      ). Corporate wellness programs also can play a role in preventing and addressing parental stress and burnout by offering educational programs on positive parenting practices and support groups for parents to connect with other working parents. Additional research is needed in these areas to determine other interventions and strategies to prevent parental burnout in this population and how to best support parents when their resources are limited.
      In addition to corporate interventions, more pediatric clinicians need to be aware of parental burnout, the signs and risk factors, and their significance to child and adolescent outcomes. Clinicians should consider conducting universal screening for parental burnout when resources/interventions can be provided in the clinical setting. Using the WPBS scale or the 1-item assessment in clinical practice could help identify parental burnout or the early stages of parental burnout in working parents so that early interventions can be provided. Positive screenings may also help predict the likelihood of parental depression and anxiety. Early screening and intervention can ultimately improve health and developmental outcomes for both parents and children.

      Limitations

      Although we recommend using the WPBS, it is not without limitations. Most of the sampled population are employees from a large university and academic medical institution, so the sample consists of mostly White females with a higher income level (80.8% reported a total household income level ≥ $71,000). Another limitation is that the survey data were entered by individual participants, causing the potential risk for inaccurate responses and incomplete responses in data collection. Cross-sectional data collection also does not allow a true predictive validity assessment. This study was also conducted approximately 10 months into the COVID-19 pandemic, which may have influenced the study results. The authors intend to do additional studies to validate the WPBS in diverse samples and time.

      Conclusions

      The new WPBS is a valid and reliable instrument that can identify working parent burnout. It is also predictive of parental depression and anxiety. The 1-item assessment had good convergent validity with the WPBS and, therefore, could be used as a very brief screen for working parent burnout. Future research should focus on validating the WPBS and 1-item assessment in diverse populations and finding specific interventions to prevent and improve parental burnout in working parents.

      Appendix. SUPPLEMENTARY MATERIALS

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      Biography

      Kate Sustersic Gawlik, Associate Professor of Clinical Nursing, College of Nursing, Ohio State University, Columbus, OH.
      Bernadette Mazurek Melnyk, Dean, College of Nursing, and Helene Fuld Health Trust Professor of Evidence-Based Practice, and Professor of Pediatrics and Psychiatry, College of Medicine, Ohio State University, Columbus, OH.
      Jinjian Mu, Biostatistician, College of Nursing, Ohio State University, Columbus, OH.
      Alai Tan, Research Professor, College of Nursing, Ohio State University, Columbus, OH.