for people ages 20-60 (full criteria)
at San Francisco, California
study started
estimated completion
Principal Investigator
by Elissa Epel, PhD
Photo of Elissa Epel
Elissa Epel



Investigators are proposing a 6-week mindfulness and resilience training intervention tailored for caregivers of children with autism. Investigators will assess increases the caregiver's well-being and levels of psychological acceptance of their life situation as it relates to their child with autism. The mindfulness training focuses on self-regulation of emotional responses and acceptance of internal experiences. Self-report measures and qualitative interviews will be administered at baseline and post-intervention. Investigators will compare the active group to a control group of caregivers who are on the waitlist to receive the intervention.


Investigators will prospectively examine a sample comprised of parental caregivers (ages 20 to 60) of children with autism spectrum disorder (ages 3 to 12) to determine how responses to the chronic stress of caregiving may contribute to psychological distress (e.g depression, caregiving burden, self-reported sleep). All participants: Participants will be randomized into the active group vs. wait list control group. Investigators will assess indices of psychological health at 2 time points over 6 weeks (length of intervention) - a Baseline Assessment, and a Follow-up Assessment. Both baseline and follow-up assessments include the same battery of questionnaires. Daily/nightly diaries will also be completed by participants in the 7 days leading up to the baseline and follow-up time points. In addition to self-report measures, investigators will conduct a 20-25 minute qualitative interview with caregivers both pre and post-intervention. The interview is optional and will be conducted via telephone before beginning the six-week course and within two weeks of finishing the course. The interview will be used to assess caregiver's acceptance of their child's condition and better understand their personal perception of their own acceptance. Interviews questions will be open-ended and may be modified based on the caregiver's response. An example question includes, "How hard has it been to accept your child has ASD? Control group only: The control group will be waitlisted and enrolled in the next 6-week mindfulness course. Investigators expect the next mindfulness course for the waitlist control group to be held within 1-3 months of the initial active group course. Active group only: The active group will participate in a mindfulness resilience training intervention. The intervention consists of weekly 2 hour classes held at UCSF Parnassus Campus over the course of 6 weeks. The study PI, Dr. Elissa Epel, will lead the intervention classes teaching the fundamentals of mindfulness training. The training focuses on acceptance and awareness of the present moment.


Caregiver Stress Autism Spectrum Disorder caregiver parent asd autism Mindfulness training


You can join if…

Open to people ages 20-60

  • Age 20-60 years old
  • Full time caregiver for a child with ASD, aged 3 to 12
  • Child diagnosed with ASD for a minimum of 6 months
  • English Speaking

You CAN'T join if...

  • Any conditions that may make it difficult to participate in a mindfulness group (e.g., psychotic disorder, personality disorder)


  • University of California, San Francisco accepting new patients
    San Francisco California 94118 United States

Lead Scientist at UCSF

  • Elissa Epel, PhD
    Elissa Epel, Ph.D, is a Professor, and Vice Chair, in the Department of Psychiatry, at University of California, San Francisco. Her research aims to elucidate mechanisms of healthy aging, and to apply this basic science to scalable interventions that can reach vulnerable populations.


accepting new patients
Start Date
Completion Date
University of California, San Francisco
Study Type
Last Updated