Fourth interim report : “Treatment for children and youth at risk for long-term antisocial outcomes in hard to reach families”
Executive Summary: The Behavioural Intervention program for youth with Conduct Disorder, and their families, is currently being conducted by a team led by Professor Kevin Ronan at CQUniversity, Rockhampton. This project which commenced in September 2009 is in partnership with the local Youth Justice Services, funded by the Department of Communities. Further funding is allowing the project to continue through April 2013, when the main research phase will be scheduled to finish. Additional funding has permitted the employment of another fulltime therapist from April 2012, who has started to take on a full-time caseload. The project has been operational for approximately 32 months, with a total of 31 families either having finished or currently in treatment. A subset have been initially randomly assigned to the waitlist control condition (WL) (n = 13). Additionally, there are an additional 17 potential referrals currently requesting services from the program. With renewed funding and the addition of another FT therapist, and with the caseload of the senior therapist having some additional room, another phase of randomization to either treatment or the wait-list control group has again commenced from April 2012. That is, by mid-May, we anticipate that we will have randomly assigned 9 additional families to either Treatment or WL conditions (2 already assigned, 7 pending). Overall, we anticipate being able to see and complete treatment with 41-47 families by April 2013. Results to date remain promising with Treatment Condition families typically indicating significant gains with regard to major instrumental outcomes (e.g., parenting and family factors linked to conduct disorder; young person behavior; peer affiliation; monitoring and supervision; family goals) in relation to the young person’s conduct disorder-related problems. Results are based on regular collection of data prior to, during and following treatment delivery. By contrast, findings for the Waitlist Control condition generally show no improvement and, in some cases, deterioration in these same outcomes. In terms of ultimate outcomes, for the Treatment Condition, in addition to improvement on a range of instrumental outcomes, findings to date support reduced criminality and delinquency as reported by (1) official offending statistics, (2) parents and (3) the young person. By contrast, no such change has been seen as a function of the Waitlist Control condition. Additionally, regular administration of another measure, the Session Rating Scale (SRS), that assesses the level of family satisfaction with intervention services, indicates high levels of family satisfaction (average rating at completion over 9 on a 10 point scale). The SRS is completed by the parent with regard to their perception of how the program intervention overall is being conducted and permits the parent/s to indicate whether the needs and expectations of the family is being met and whether they are satisfied with individual sessions as well as with the service overall. Overall, the findings to date prepare the groundwork for further evaluation of program outcomes, including reducing criminogenic risk, evaluation of cost savings, and larger scale dissemination of this program into usual service settings. In addition, we are currently in the final stages of writing up the pilot study cases (n = 4) as part of a manuscript for submission to a refereed, scholarly journal and will forward that manuscript prior to submitting it for publication (anticipated for May 2012) to ensure that the Department is happy with it prior to submission. In addition to evaluation, we have a strong focus on increasing capacity in the Rockhampton region and Central Queensland area and have increased the numbers of trained therapists both within our program and also within a variety of government and non-governmental (NGO) agencies. The next section provides more detail on these developments.