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Continuing the Research and Development of Parent Treatment for Child Social Adjustment

SBIR competing renewal

Project Info

Project Description

ID: 2R44MH065718-04
TERM: 01/09 – 12/11

Problematic peer relations, particularly when chronic, can have a tremendous impact on children’s functioning and mental health. Decades of research indicate that peer rejection, isolation, and victimization negatively impact adjustment and place children at increased risk for a myriad of later negative outcomes. Prevention and treatment research supports the use of social skills group therapy for improving children’s peer relations, social behavior, and emotional adjustment. However, focusing exclusively on the child is not as effective as multi-component intervention efforts that extend beyond the group setting; therefore, interventions that include a family component may help further improve outcomes for youth.

For the this project, 3-C was awarded a grant through the National Institutes of Health Competing Renewal funding mechanism to continue the research and development of a parent-focused intervention, the Parent Guide to S.S.GRIN (Parent Guide). The Parent Guide parallels an established child-focused intervention [Social Skills GRoup INtervention (S.S.GRIN); for children ages 5-12 years] and is designed to teach and reinforce within the home environment the same social skills and concepts that children learn in their intervention.

Prior to this Competing Renewal, the Phase II objectives of creating the complete Parent Guide intervention product and conducting pilot efficacy research were successfully accomplished. However, the limited scope of the Phase II research project left critical questions unanswered regarding the treatment’s effectiveness, particularly its relative impact above and beyond the S.S.GRIN intervention alone. Therefore, a primary goal of this Competing Renewal was to conduct a rigorous, large-scale, longitudinal research project that is adequately powered to address questions of relative impact, longer-term treatment benefits, and differential treatment effects across settings and populations.

Another lesson learned during Phase II efforts is that the Parent Guide’s current design is impractical for the school setting. Though schools often struggle with how to increase parent involvement in school-based programs, school officials report that it is infeasible for them to conduct the full series of in-person parent training groups as the Parent Guide’s current curriculum demands. The Home-study version of the Parent Guide, designed to address this concern, has undergone feasibility testing with parents, as well as community-based and school-based mental health professionals. The feasibility testing results provided substantial support for continued development. Therefore, a second goal of this Competing Renewal was to incorporate Phase II findings and stakeholder input into the creation and testing of the Home-study version of the Parent Guide, which utilizes 3-C’s innovative web- and video-based technology to bridge training into the home environment.

The finalized S.S.GRIN-Parent Guide and Parent Guide-Home Study curricula underwent a rigorous scientific evaluation allowing for the evaluation of the relative impact of parent involvement in both the in-person and Home Study formats above beyond the effects of S.S.GRIN alone. The Parent Guide product that was tested in the includes both traditional, in-person group intervention as well as a newly developed Home-study version. Children and the parents of the children in all groups completed behavioral rating scales on the child’s social and behavioral functioning at four timepoints: pre-intervention, immediately post-intervention, 6-months post-intervention, and 12-months post-intervention. Pre-post intervention data was compared across all research groups to determine the effects of the Parent Guide curricula, and the follow-up assessments allow for analysis of the continuation and sustainability of results.