Family systemic psychosocial support for at-risk adolescents in Lebanon: study protocol for a multi-site randomised controlled trial.
Adolescents growing up in communities characterised by adversity face multiple risk factors for poor mental health and wellbeing. There is currently a scarcity of research on effective approaches for preventing and treating psychological distress in this population, particularly in humanitarian settings. The powerful impact of the home environment and family support is well known; however, approaches targeting the family are seldom developed or evaluated in such settings. We developed a brief family systemic psychosocial support intervention to be delivered through existing child protection systems with non-specialist facilitators. This paper outlines the study protocol for a randomised controlled trial of the intervention in Lebanon.
We will conduct a single-blind hybrid effectiveness-implementation multi-site RCT comparing the locally developed systemic family intervention to a waitlist control group for families residing in vulnerable regions in North Lebanon and Beqaa governorates (including families of Syrian, Palestinian, and Lebanese backgrounds). Outcomes on a range of family, adolescent, and caregiver measures will be assessed at baseline (T0) and post-intervention (T1), and at a 3-month follow-up for the treatment arm (T2). Families will be eligible for the trial if they are identified by implementing organisations as being medium-to-high risk for child protection concerns and have one or more adolescent aged 12-17 who demonstrates significant psychological distress on a self-report brief screening tool. Families will be randomly assigned to a treatment or a waitlist control condition. Families in the waitlist condition will receive a group version of the programme after completion of the study, to allow us to assess feasibility, acceptability, and preliminary indications of intervention effects of this modality. The primary outcome is reduction in overall adolescent-reported psychological distress over time, with post-intervention (T1) as the primary endpoint. Secondary adolescent-reported outcomes include family functioning, psychosocial wellbeing, and emotional regulation difficulties. Secondary caregiver-reported outcomes include parenting style, family functioning, psychological distress, and emotional regulation difficulties.
This trial will provide the first assessment of the effectiveness of the family systemic psychosocial support intervention for use in Lebanon, with important implications for the use of systemic, low-cost, non-specialist interventions for this age range.
Local registry: National Mental Health Program, Ministry of Public Health, Lebanese Republic. Registered on 19 October 2021 Lebanese Clinical Trial Registry LBCTR2021104870 . Registered on 13 October 2021 Global registry: ISRCTN ISRCTN13751677 . Registered on 1 November 2021.
Brown, FL; Bosqui, T; Elias, J; Farah, S; Mayya, A; Abo Nakkoul, D; Walsh, B; Chreif, S; Einein, A; Meksassi, B; Abi Saad, R; Naal, H; Ghossainy, ME; Donnelly, M; Betancourt, TS; Carr, A; Puffer, E; El Chammay, R; Jordans, MJD
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