Six-year follow-up of a preventive intervention for parentally bereaved youths: A randomized controlled trial

Irwin Sandler, Tim S. Ayers, Jenn-Yun Tein, Sharlene Wolchik, Roger Millsap, Seik Toon Khoo, Debra Kaplan, Yue Ma, Linda Luecken, Erin Schoenfelder, Stefany Coxe

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

49 Scopus citations


Objective: To evaluate the efficacy of the Family Bereavement Program (FBP) to prevent mental health problems in parentally bereaved youths and their parents 6 years later. Design: Randomized controlled trial. Setting: Arizona State University Prevention Research Center from November 2002 to July 2005. Participants: Two hundred eighteen bereaved youths (89.34% of 244 enrolled in the trial 6 years earlier) and 113 spousally bereaved parents. Interventions: The FBP includes 12 group sessions for caregivers and youths; the literature control (LC) condition includes bereavement books for youths and caregivers. Main Outcome Measures: Comparisons of youths in the FBP and LC on a measure of mental disorder diagnosis, 5measures of mental health problems, and 4measures of competent functioning; and comparisons of spousally bereaved parents on 2 measures of mental health problems. Results: Youths in the FBP as compared with those in the LC had significantly lower externalizing problems as reported by caregivers and youths (adjusted mean, -0.06 vs 0.13, respectively; P=.02) and on teacher reports of externalizing problems (adjusted mean, 52.69 vs 56.27, respectively; P=.001) and internalizing problems (adjusted mean, 47.29 vs 56.27, respectively; P=.002), and they had higher self-esteem (adjusted mean, 33.93 vs 31.91, respectively; P=.005). Parents in the FBP had lower depression scores than those in the LC (adjusted mean, 5.48 vs 7.83, respectively; P=.04). A significant moderated program effect indicated that for youths with lower baseline problems, the rate of diagnosed mental disorder was lower for those in the FBP than in the LC. Conclusion: This study demonstrates efficacy of the FBP to reduce mental health problems of bereaved youths and their parents 6 years later. Trial Registration: Identifier: NCT01008189.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)907-914
Number of pages8
JournalArchives of Pediatrics and Adolescent Medicine
Issue number10
StatePublished - Oct 2010

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Pediatrics, Perinatology, and Child Health


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