Improving Social-Behavioral Adjustment of Adolescents through Parent Training

Period of Performance: 03/01/2009 - 02/28/2010


Phase 1 SBIR

Recipient Firm

3-C Institute for Social Development
DURHAM, NC 27713
Principal Investigator


DESCRIPTION (provided by applicant): Problematic peer relations, particularly when chronic, can have a tremendous impact on youth functioning and mental health. When youth experience difficulties in the peer system, a wide array of negative behaviors, emotional difficulties, negative attitudes, and academic problems are likely to develop. However, prevention and treatment research indicates this cycle can be ameliorated, if not broken, with the application of targeted, structured, cognitive-behavioral skills training interventions. Further, the efficacy of interventions is enhanced when training extends to multiple settings (e.g., intervention setting and home) and practice outside of the treatment sessions (e.g., homework) is included. Therefore, focusing exclusively on the youth is not as effective as multi-component intervention efforts that target both the youth and the home environment. The goal of this SBIR project is to develop a parent-based intervention product that parallels an existing evidenced based adolescent-focused intervention product, i.e., Social Skills GRoup INtervention-Adolescent (SSGRIN-A). The complete Parent Guide to SSGRIN-A (SSGRIN-A PG) will consist of 10 sessions addressing specific social skill sets, including self-esteem building, impulse control, and communication. Skill training will be grounded in cognitive-behavioral and social learning principles incorporating the five Methods of Change (MOC). In particular, skill training will focus on the cognitive, behavioral, and emotional shifts that occur in early-to-middle adolescents necessitating transformations in the dynamics of both adult and peer interactions and requiring reorganization of family and peer relationships. For the Phase I prototype, the professional manual and all needed materials for Sessions 1-5 will be developed, including session scripts, parent handouts, interactive web-based resources and an overview video. Once the SSGRIN-A PG prototype is complete, an initial test of feasibility within two targeted markets [i.e., school- and community- based mental health professionals;n=30 each] and with targeted end users (i.e., parents;n=60) will be conducted. Phase I findings will provide the foundation for the development and testing of the complete SSGRIN-A PG intervention program for parents during Phase II. Once SSGRIN-A PG has been finalized, a scientific evaluation of the efficacy of the product will be conducted examining changes in youth's social, behavioral, and emotional functioning and in parent's support for social skill development and sense of competence. Development of psychiatric disorders due to socio-emotional deficits is a public health concern with annual US economic, indirect cost of mental illnesses estimated at $79 billion. Development and implementation of efficacious interventions such as SSGRIN-A PG can reduce these costs. PUBLIC HEALTH RELEVANCE: Peer problems have been repeatedly related to a myriad of concurrent adjustment problems (e.g., disruptiveness, loneliness, academic failure) and later negative outcomes (e.g., suicide, dropping out of school, criminality, drug use, and mental health problems), each of which exact a significant toll both on individuals and society. Costs to society for adjudication, incarceration, social agency and treatment programs, and damage/loss of property due to the actions of aggressive and antisocial youth are exorbitant, exceeding hundreds of millions of dollars per year. SSGRIN-A PG will provide schools and mental health settings with an effective tool to prevent an increasingly negative path towards escalating antisocial behavior and negative outcomes. Providing parents with an effective way to help their teens build social skills and improve peer relations, as well as their ability to cope with social stressors, will improve youths'quality of life and help offset the development of more serious maladjustment.