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Preuss, Hanna; Capito, Klara; Eickels, Rahel Lea van; Zemp, Martina and Kolar, David Raphael (2021): Cognitive reappraisal and self-compassion as emotion regulation strategies for parents during COVID-19: An online randomized controlled trial. In: Internet Interventions-the Application of Information Technology in Mental and Behavioural Health, Vol. 24, 100388

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Objective: Parenting during pandemic restrictions places extreme demands on everyday family life, leading to increased stress levels for parents and distressed parent-child interactions. This RCT aimed to investigate whether cognitive reappraisal and self-compassion are helpful emotion regulation (ER) strategies to reduce individual and parental stress during the COVID-19 pandemic. Method: An online intervention for parents was developed focusing on the application of ER strategies to pandemic requirements of families. A sample of 265 parents were randomly assigned to either cognitive reappraisal (CR;n = 88), self-compassion (SC;n = 90) or wait-list control (WLC;n = 87) group. Interventions included two video sessions (day 1 and day 3) and three email reminders to transfer the application of ER strategies to daily family life (days 2, 4, 5). Parents? perceived individual stress and parental stress were assessed at baseline (T0), at T1 prior to the booster session on day 3, and at T2 (7 days after baseline). Results: Significant decreases from T0 to T2 emerged for both primary stress outcomes in both intervention groups. Individual stress significantly decreased in CR compared to WLC at T2, but not compared to SC. No time ? group interactions for parental stress were found. However, mediation analyses suggested that parental stress was indirectly decreased via reductions in individual stress for CR compared to WLC at both time points. Conclusions: COVID-19 will not be the last pandemic to affect family life. Cognitive reappraisal as a brief online intervention can ease acute stress and strengthen the mental health of parents in acute crises.

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