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Clin Child Psychol Psychiatry. 2007 Jul;12(3):403-20.

Family-focused treatment for childhood-onset depressive disorders: results of an open trial.

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Department of Psychology, Boston University, MA 02215, USA.


Study objectives were to develop a treatment manual for a family-focused intervention for depressed school-aged children, evaluate its feasibility and acceptability, and complete an initial open trial to examine treatment effects. Nine young people meeting criteria for depression (major depressive disorder, dysthymic disorder, or depression not otherwise specified), completed a 12-week family intervention, and were assessed immediately and at 9 months following treatment completion. The intervention presented an interpersonal model of how depressive symptoms are maintained, and emphasized developing family strategies for altering interpersonal processes, supporting recovery and enhancing resilience. At posttreatment 66% of the young people had recovered from their depressive episodes; by 9 months posttreatment 77% had recovered. Significant improvements in global functioning were noted. There were no relapses in the follow-up period and no instances of suicidal behavior during the intervention or follow-up. Mothers' and fathers' Child Behavior Checklist reports and children's self reports indicated significant symptom reductions. Exploratory analyses suggest particular benefit for young people with parents high in criticism. The family-focused intervention for childhood-onset depression demonstrated gains similar to those seen with empirically supported treatments for depressed adolescents and superior to those seen in naturalistic studies of depression outcomes. This favorable risk/benefit profile supports the value of a randomized controlled trial.

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