The effectiveness of a dialogical family guidance intervention regarding child treatment response in families with a child with neurodevelopmental disorders

Diana Cavonius-Rintahaka, Mervi Roos, Anna Liisa Aho

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Background: Children with neurodevelopmental disorders (NDD) can have emotional and behavioral symptoms affecting not only the child, but the whole family. Since family members have a strong impact on each other, studies highlight the need to offer effective family interventions to strengthen the wellbeing of the family. The aim of the current study is to clarify whether there is a difference between parents` opinions regarding their child`s emotional and behavioral condition immediately after Dialogical Family Guidance (DFG) has ended and after a three and six month follow-up. Method: Fifty families with a child with NDD were randomized into two groups. Group 1 received DFG with an immediate starting point, and Group 2 received DFG after a three-month waiting period. Parent experiences of treatment response regarding their children`s emotional and behavioral symptoms were estimated before and after DFG using the parent version of the Strengths and Difficulties Questionnaire (SDQ-p) at baseline, and after three and six months. Additionally, comparisons between boys and girls, and the age of the child were analyzed. Results: The total difficulties score between Group 1 and Group 2 showed no difference immediately after DFG, or after three months. Regarding subdomains boys had more peer problems than girls, and at baseline, children between 3 and 6 years appeared to have more conduct problems than children between 7 and 13 years. Subdomain prosocial behavior increased statistically significantly during the study period in Group 1. Other SDQ-p subdomains remained constant in both groups between baseline and three and six month follow-up. Conclusions: The result does not show any differences between parents` opinions regarding their child immediately after or three months after DFG regarding SDQ-p total difficulties scores in either group. The difference between younger and older children regarding conduct problems at baseline, and the difference between boys and girls regarding peer problems is worth paying attention to in the clinical setting. Because of the small sample, it is not possible to draw relevant conclusions regarding the intervention`s effect regarding the child`s mental health dimensions, gender, or age. Nevertheless, Dialogical family Guidance represents one intervention that can be used. Trial registration: NCT04892992 (retrospectively registered May 18th 2021).
Original languageEnglish
Article number189
JournalBMC Psychology
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - Dec 2024
Publication typeA1 Journal article-refereed

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