A Randomized Controlled Trial of the Impact of a Family-Based Adolescent Depression Intervention on both Youth and Parent Mental Health Outcomes

Lucinda A. Poole, Tess Knight, John W Toumbourou, Dan I. Lubman, Melanie D Bertino, Andrew J. Lewis

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This paper presents findings from a multi-centre, double-blind, randomized controlled trial that tested the hypothesis that parent and youth mental health improvements would be superior in a family-based intervention for adolescent depression (BEST MOOD) compared to a treatment-as-usual supportive parenting program (PAST). Eligible participants were families with a young person aged between 12 and 18 years who met diagnostic criteria for a depressive disorder (major, minor or dysthymic). Participating families (N = 64; 73.4% of youth were female) were recruited in Victoria, Australia and allocated to treatment condition using a block randomization procedure (parallel design) with two levels of blinding. This paper reports on the trial’s secondary outcomes on youth and parent mental health. General linear mixed models were used to examine the longitudinal effect of treatment group on outcome. Data were analyzed according to intention-to-treat; 31 families were analyzed in BEST MOOD, and 33 families in PAST. Parents in the BEST MOOD group experienced significantly greater reductions in stress and depressive symptoms than parents in the PAST group at 3-month follow-up. A greater reduction in parental anxiety was observed in the BEST MOOD group (d = 0.35) compared with PAST (d = 0.02), although the between-group difference was not significant. Both groups of youth showed similar levels of improvement in depressive symptoms at post-treatment (d = 0.83 and 0.80 respectively), which were largely sustained at a 3-month follow-up. The family-based BEST MOOD intervention appeared superior to treatment-as-usual (PAST) in demonstrating greater reductions in parental stress and depression. Both interventions produced large reductions in youth depressive symptoms.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)169-181
Number of pages13
JournalJournal of Abnormal Child Psychology
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - Jan 2018


  • Adolescent
  • Depression
  • Family-based intervention
  • Parental mental health
  • Randomized controlled trial

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