The Take A Breath (TAB) research program investigates the prevalence, trajectories and determinants of distress reactions in parents of children (aged 0–18 years) recently diagnosed with a serious childhood illness or injury (SCII), and evaluates an intervention designed to prevent more serious long-term mental health difficulties. Parental psychological adaption to their child’s SCII has been identified as a significant predictor of child and family psychosocial adjustment both in the short and longer term. A substantive body of descriptive research has established that posttraumatic stress symptoms and other psychological symptoms such as depression and anxiety are experienced by a significant subset of parents who have a child with a SCII.

The TAB Cohort Study is a prospective longitudinal study that explored resilience factors that contribute to good parent outcomes, and risk factors that are related to poor outcomes.

The TAB RCT is a randomised control trial evaluating the efficacy of an Acceptance Commitment Therapy-based group early intervention program for parents with persistent symptoms of distress. The TAB program was designed to reduce parental distress and improve psychosocial outcomes for parents, children and families and was developed by the TAB team and piloted in the TAB Cohort Study.

For both studies, participants included parents of children admitted to 4 different Royal Children’s Hospital (Melbourne, Australia) departments: Oncology, Cardiology, Neurology, and Intensive Care.


Study name Take A Breath Cohort Study and Take a Breath RCT Study
Study abbreviation TAB
Current principal investigator/s Professor Vicki Anderson, Dr Frank Muscara, Dr Maria McCarthy, Dr Kylie Burke, Dr Meredith Rayner and Professor Jan Nicholson
Current project manager Dr Frank Muscara 
Cohort representative (study contact) Dr Frank Muscara
Postal address Murdoch Children’s Research Institute, Child Neuropsychology, Fourth Floor West, The Royal Children’s Hospital, Flemington Rd, Parkville, Victoria Australia, 3052
Phone +613 9936 6653
Primary Institution Murdoch Children’s Research Institute
Collaborating Institution/s The Royal Children’s Hospital
Major funding sources


Royal Children’s Hospital Foundation

TAB Cohort:

The Pratt Foundation, Victorian Government Operational Infrastructure Program, The Parenting Research Centre

Study website
Key reference

TAB Cohort:

Muscara F, Burke K, McCarthy MC, et al. Parent distress reactions following a serious illness or injury in their child: a protocol paper for the take a breath cohort study. BMC Psychiatry. 2015;15(1):153. doi: 10.1186/s12888-015-0519-5


Rayner, M., Muscara, F., Dimovski, A., McCarthy, M.C., Yamada, J., Anderson, V.A., Burke, K., Walser, R. and Nicholson, J.M. (2016). Take A Breath: study protocol for a randomized controlled trial of an online group intervention to reduce traumatic stress in parents of children with a life threatening illness or injury. BMC Psychiatry, 16(1): 169.  doi: 10.1186/s12888-016-0861-2

Are data available outside study team? Data are not available to others outside the study team.
Study focus

TAB Cohort:

Longitudinal tracking of parent stress reactions following serious childhood illness or injury


The evaluation of the Take a Breath intervention for parents: its acceptability and utility in improving parent mental health and outcomes, following a serious illness or injury in their child.

Sampling frame Parents of children admitted to the Royal Children’s Hospital (Melbourne, Australia), in the following departments:
– Oncology
– Cardiology
– Neurology
– Intensive Care
Year commenced

TAB Cohort: 2009

TAB RCT: 2011

Commencement sample

TAB Cohort:

Eligible Families: 512 families. Total recruited: 282 families. Note: n = 231 families were eligible but not recruited – breakdown as follows: n = 29 declined to participate; n = 193 were missed, i.e. had been discharged from hospital prior to potential recruitment; n = 3 were un-contactable and n = 6 were transferred to PICU 


231 parents (113 intervention/118 control) recruited as of August 2016

Intergenerational? Not applicable
Imaging Not applicable
Linkage TAB RCT: Medical records (limited)
Biosamples? Not applicable
Ethics approvals or requirements? This project only (Specific consent)
Future research related to this project (Extended consent)



TAB Cohort Study

Wave Year Age (mean, range) Eligible sample
1  November 2010 – August 2012  Oncology 39.1 (8.3); Cardiology 34.5 (8.8); Mixed Dx 35.8 (7.3) Oncology = 90; Cardiology = 82; Mixed Dx = 110
2  March 2011 – December 2012  –  –
3  June 2011 – March 2013  –  –
4  June 2012 – March 2014  –  –


Wave Year Age (mean, range) Eligible sample
1 T1 2014 – 2016    
2 T2 2014 – 2017    
3 T3 2014 – 2017    
4 T4 2015 – 2017