Background: When the primary disabilities associated with fetal alcohol spectrum disorders (FASD) are not well supported, individuals are at higher risk for mental health problems and other secondary conditions. The Families on Track (FOT) intervention was designed to prevent secondary conditions and improve family functioning in children with FASD. Promising results from a pilot study demonstrated positive effects on child and caregiver outcomes immediately following the intervention. The objective of this study was to examine the sustainability of these effects 6 months postintervention.
Methods: Thirty children (ages 4 to 8) with prenatal alcohol exposure and their caregivers were enrolled in the original study. Families were randomized to the FOT intervention or an active comparison group that provided comprehensive assessment and individualized feedback. The intervention integrated a positive parenting curriculum and a child skills group. Families were assessed at baseline, postintervention, and 6‐month follow‐up visits. Follow‐up data were available for 24 families on child and caregiver outcomes. Data were analyzed using effect size calculations and analysis‐of‐variance techniques.
Results: Relative to the comparison group, intervention families showed continued gains in parenting efficacy and maintained prior improvements in FASD knowledge over the follow‐up period. Although intervention families reported a decrease in their needs being met over the follow‐up period, they continued to report their needs being met to greater extent than those in the comparison group. Consistent with postintervention outcomes, children in both groups exhibited similar decreases in child disruptive behavior 6 months following the intervention. Unfortunately, positive gains seen at postintervention for child self‐esteem and emotion regulation were attenuated at follow‐up.
Conclusions: This pilot study yielded promising effects on important areas of caregiver functioning. However, the intervention's impact on child functioning waned over time, suggesting the need for sustained or alternate child intervention.