Effectiveness of online versus live multi-family psychoeducation group therapy for children and adolescents with mood or anxiety disorders: a pilot study

Int J Adolesc Med Health. 2016 Oct 14;30(4):/j/ijamh.2018.30.issue-4/ijamh-2016-0069/ijamh-2016-0069.xml. doi: 10.1515/ijamh-2016-0069.

Abstract

Objective: [1] To highlight the effectiveness of multi-family psychoeducation group therapy (MFPGT) in children with mood or anxiety disorders; [2] to measure change in knowledge and awareness of mood and anxiety disorders in families and children; and [3] to compare the relative effectiveness of online compared to live MFPGT.

Method: Participants included families of children (12 years or younger) referred with a mood or anxiety disorder to the Division of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry at Queen's University (n=16) who were on a waitlist to see a psychiatrist. Change was measured through questionnaires for all parents before and after the program. Using SPSS v22, comparisons between the online (n=6) and live (n=10) groups were made using the Mann-Whitney U test and within group comparisons were made using Wilcoxon signed-rank test.

Results: The online and live education groups showed similar overall improvements in knowledge acquisition and expressed emotion in participating families. However, statistical significance must be interpreted with caution due to the small sample size.

Conclusions: Online MFPGT may be an effective way to increase knowledge, provide resources and support and build on skills thus giving individuals more control and confidence when dealing with a mood or anxiety disorder while on a waitlist. MFPGT showed equal efficacy in live and online groups, indicating that the online program has the potential to be a more convenient and accessible program for families. More research is needed with a greater sample size.

Keywords: adolescence; children; mood and anxiety; online; psychoeducation.