Family Intervention to Prevent Depression and Substance Use Among Adolescents of Depressed Parents

J Child Fam Stud. 2012 Dec 1;21(6):891-905. doi: 10.1007/s10826-011-9549-x.


Parental depression places offspring at elevated risk for multiple, co-occurring problems. The purpose of this study was to develop and preliminarily evaluate Project Hope, a family intervention for the prevention of both depression and substance use among adolescent-aged children (M = 13.9 years) of depressed parents. The program was created by blending two empirically supported interventions: one for depression and another for substance use. Thirty families were randomly assigned to either Project Hope (n = 16) or a wait-list control condition (n = 14). Pretests, posttests (n = 29), and 5-month follow-ups (n = 28) were conducted separately with parents and youth via phone interviews. Questions asked about the family depression experience, family interactions, family management, coping, adolescent substance use beliefs and refusal skills, adolescent depression, and adolescent substance use. Project Hope was fully developed, manualized, and implemented with a small sample of targeted families. Engagement in the program was relatively high. Preliminary outcome analyses were conducted using 2 (Group) ×3 (Time) analyses of covariance. Results provided some evidence for significant improvements among intervention compared to control participants in indicators of the family depression experience, family management, and coping, and a statistically significant decrease from pretest to posttest in alcohol quantity for intervention compared to control youth. Next steps for this program of research are discussed.

Keywords: Co-occurrence; Depression; Family; Prevention; Substance use.