Reducing parental anxiety using a family based intervention for youth mental health: A randomized controlled trial


This paper presents findings on parent anxiety and attachment relationship style from the Deakin Family Options (DFO) pilot study, a randomized controlled pilot study comparing a family-based treatment (BEST Plus), versus a youth only treatment (CBT) versus a group who received both of these treatments (COMBINED). Eligible participants were families with a young person (aged 12 - 25 years) with a high prevalence mental health problem. Youth from participating families scored in the clinical or subclinical range for depression, anxiety and/or substance misuse symptoms on standardized measures during the initial assessment. The collected sample was drawn from regional and urban centers in Victoria, Australia and allocated to treatment condition using a simple randomization procedure (parallel design). It was hypothesized that families receiving the BEST Plus would experience greater reductions in youth and parent mental health symptoms, and improved parent-child relationships, compared with those in the CBT condition. This paper describes and discusses changes in parent anxiety and parent attachment, according to whether the parent participated in a treatment (BEST Plus) or did not (NONBEST Plus). Participants were blind to the study hypotheses. In total 71 parent participants returned pre data and were allocated to a treatment group. In this paper, data from parent participants who completed pre and post measures (n = 48) and pre, post, and 6-month follow-up measures (n = 28) on anxiety and attachment were analyzed by group (BEST Plus versus NONBEST Plus). The results of this study suggest that parent anxiety decreased significantly more following parent involvement in a group treatment, than for parents that did not receive treatment. Unexpectedly, avoidant attachment increased in the no treatment group, but remained relatively stable following the BEST Plus group. There were no significant findings in relation to compulsive traits and anxious attachment. These findings are discussed in light of the study limitations.

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Bertino, M. , Richens, K. , Knight, T. , Toumbourou, J. , Ricciardelli, L. and Lewis, A. (2013) Reducing parental anxiety using a family based intervention for youth mental health: A randomized controlled trial. Open Journal of Psychiatry, 3, 173-185. doi: 10.4236/ojpsych.2013.31A013.

Conflicts of Interest

The authors declare no conflicts of interest.


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