Growing up with parents who have substance use or mental health problems is a widespread problem and puts children at risk for many negative consequences. However, an overwhelming majority of all these children do not receive support. Digital intervention programs accessible to this target group are a promising strategy. We have translated a Dutch web-based selective prevention program and are evaluating the effects of the Swedish version. We hypothesize that the program will generate positive outcomes such as improved coping skills and quality of life, reduced symptoms of depression and alcohol consumption.
Effects are studied using a two-armed RCT design with follow-up assessment points after 6, 12 and 24 months. Participants are recruited via ads on social media. The intervention is an online chat group course where groups of 6-8 participant meet on a weekly basis (8 sessions, á 1,5 h) using a chat program and discuss different themes such as addiction and roles in the family, and social networks. A trained staff moderates each session. The following measures are included in the assessment collected using web-based questionnaires: YSR, CES-DC, Ladder of Life, Brief-COPE, WHOQOL-BREF, and AUDIT-C.
A total of 4164 individuals completed the screening. Many are not eligible due to symptoms of severe depression. Finally, 157 15-25 year olds consented to participate, completed the baseline assessment, and have been allocated to the intervention or control group. Baseline data reveal that about 48% of the included participants have own risky alcohol consumption and about 62% have symptoms of depression. A total of 90 participants have just completed the first follow-up assessment at 6 months and we continue to collect follow-up data at 12 and 24 months. During the fall 2018 and throughout 2019, we will analyze the 6, and 12-months follow-up data.
To support and prevent future negative consequences among young people having parents with substance use and/or mental health problems, there is an urgent need to develop, evaluate and disseminate efficient and suitable interventions. Digital interventions are particularly promising to reach out with support to this target group.
The study is funded by the National Public Health Agency of Sweden.