Background: Individuals with fetal alcohol spectrum disorders ( FASD) are at high risk for costly, debilitating mental health problems and secondary conditions, such as school disruption, trouble with the law, and substance use. The study objective was to pilot a multicomponent intervention designed to prevent secondary conditions in children with FASD and improve family adaptation.
Methods: Thirty children with FASD or prenatal alcohol exposure ( PAE) (ages 4 to 8) and their primary caregivers were enrolled. Families were randomized to either the Families on Track Integrated Preventive Intervention or an active control of neuropsychological assessment and personalized community referrals. The 30-week intervention integrates scientifically validated bimonthly, in-home parent behavioral consultation, and weekly child skills groups. Outcomes measured at baseline and follow-up postintervention included intervention satisfaction, child emotional and behavioral functioning, child self-esteem, caregiver knowledge of FASD and advocacy, caregiver attitudes, use of targeted parenting practices, perceived family needs met, social support, and self-care. Data analysis emphasized calculation of effect sizes and was supplemented with analysis of variance techniques.
Results: Analyses indicated that families participating in the intervention reported high program satisfaction. Relative to comparison group outcomes, the intervention was associated with medium-to-large effects for child emotion regulation, self-esteem, and anxiety. Medium-sized improvements in disruptive behavior were observed for both groups. Medium and large effects were seen for important caregiver outcomes: knowledge of FASD and advocacy, attributions of behavior, use of antecedent strategies, parenting efficacy, family needs met, social support, and self-care.
Conclusions: This pilot study yielded promising findings from the multicomponent Families on Track Integrated Preventive Intervention for child and caregiver outcomes. An important next step is to complete a randomized control trial of the Families on Track Program with a larger sample fully representative of this underserved clinical population with built-in study of implementation parameters.