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Claus, Nathalie; Marzano, Lisa; Loechner, Johanna; Starman, Kornelija; Voggt, Alessandra; Loy, Fabian; Wernuth, Inga; Haemmerle, Stephanie; Engelmann, Lina; Bley, Mirjam; Schulte-Körne, Gerd and Platt, Belinda (2019): Qualitative evaluation of a preventive intervention for the offspring of parents with a history of depression. In: BMC Psychiatry 19:290 [PDF, 712kB]


Background Meta-analyses of randomised controlled trials suggest that psychological interventions to reduce children’s risk of depression are effective. Nevertheless, these effects are modest and diminish over time. The Medical Research Council recommends a mixed-methods approach to the evaluation of complex interventions. By gaining a more thorough understanding of participants’ perspectives, qualitative evaluations of preventive interventions could improve their efficacy, longevity and transfer into clinical practice. Methods 18 parents and 22 children who had received a 12-session family- and group-based cognitive-behavioural intervention to prevent youth depression as part of a randomised controlled trial took part in semi-structured interviews or a focus group about aspects which had been perceived as helpful, elements they were still using after the intervention had ended, and suggestions they had for improving the intervention. Results The chance to openly share and discuss their experiences of depression within and between families was considered helpful by both children and parents. Children benefitted the most from learning coping strategies for dealing with stress and many still used them in everyday life. Parents profited mostly from increasing positive family time, but noted that maintaining new routines after the end of the intervention proved difficult. Participants were generally content with the intervention but commented on how tiring and time consuming it was. Conclusions Managing parents’ expectations of family-based interventions in terms of their own mental health needs (versus those of their children) and leaving more room for open discussions may result in interventions which are more appealing to participating families. Increasing intervals between sessions may be one means of improving the longevity of interventions.

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