The impact of a respite volunteer ‘buddy’ programme on behavioural and psychological well-being in young carers

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Young carers often face a great amount of emotional burden and have high practical and social responsibilities. The role of being a young carer is associated with behavioural, developmental, physical and psychosocial problems that may not only affect the individual in childhood but also in adulthood. The aim of this study was to investigate the effect of a Danish respite volunteer programme called The Buddies for Children and Youngsters Programme on young carers' (n = 49; aged 6–16) social–emotional functioning. A pre–post-design was applied, and data were collected through the parent version of the strengths and difficulties questionnaire (SDQ), here with an impact supplement at baseline and at the end of the programme (after 4 months). The programme showed a positive impact on emotional symptoms, hyperactivity symptoms, conduct problems, peer problems, prosocial aspects and impact aspects, with mean differences values of −2.50 (p =.000), −0.62 (p =.271), −1.18 (p =.000), −0.74 (p =.008), 0.62 (p =.004) and −0.88 (p =.007), respectively. Furthermore, a large effect was found for the total difficulties score: −5.03 (p =.000). In conclusion, the programme seems promising considering its effect on young carers' social–emotional functioning. However, future research should include comparative studies with a longer duration.

Original languageEnglish
JournalChild & Family Social Work
Issue number3
Pages (from-to)734-752
Number of pages19
Publication statusPublished - Aug 2023

Bibliographical note

Funding information: The Department of Nursing, University College of Northern Denmark; The Spar Nord Foundation, Denmark; The Obel Family Foundation Denmark.


  • children
  • mental health
  • respite programme
  • strengths and difficulties questionnaire (SDQ)
  • volunteer programme
  • young carers


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