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BMC Public Health. 2012; 12: 86.
Published online Jan 27, 2012. doi:  10.1186/1471-2458-12-86
PMCID: PMC3292977
Study design of 'FRIENDS for Life': process and effect evaluation of an indicated school-based prevention programme for childhood anxiety and depression
Mia P Kösters,corresponding author1 Mai JM Chinapaw,2 Marieke Zwaanswijk,3 Marcel F van der Wal,1 Elisabeth MWJ Utens,4 and Hans M Koot5
1Department of Epidemiology, Documentation and Health Promotion, Public Health Service of Amsterdam, P.O. Box 2200, 1000 CE Amsterdam, The Netherlands
2Department of Public and Occupational Health, EMGO Institute for Health and Care Research, VU University Medical Centre, Van der Boechorststraat 7, 1081 BT Amsterdam, The Netherlands
3NIVEL, Netherlands Institute for Health Services Research, P.O. Box 1568, 3500 BN Utrecht, The Netherlands
4Department of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry/Psychology, Erasmus Medical Centre-Sophia Children's Hospital, P.O. Box 2060 (Kp-2), 3000 CB Rotterdam, The Netherlands
5Department of Developmental Psychology, Faculty of Psychology and Education, VU University, Van der Boechorststraat 1, 1081 BT Amsterdam, The Netherlands
corresponding authorCorresponding author.
Mia P Kösters: mkosters/at/ggd.amsterdam.nl; Mai JM Chinapaw: m.chinapaw/at/vumc.nl; Marieke Zwaanswijk: m.zwaanswijk/at/nivel.nl; Marcel F van der Wal: mvdwal/at/ggd.amsterdam.nl; Elisabeth MWJ Utens: e.utens/at/erasmus.nl; Hans M Koot: j.m.koot/at/vu.nl
Received January 12, 2012; Accepted January 27, 2012.
Abstract
Background
Anxiety disorders and depression are highly prevalent in children and affect their current and future functioning. 'FRIENDS for Life' is a cognitive-behavioural programme teaching children skills to cope more effectively with feelings of anxiety and depression. Although 'FRIENDS for Life' is increasingly being implemented at Dutch schools, its effectiveness as a preventive intervention in Dutch schools has never been investigated. The aim of the study is to evaluate the effectiveness of 'FRIENDS for Life' as an indicated school-based prevention programme for children with early or mild signs of anxiety or depression.
Methods/Design
This study is a controlled trial with one pre-intervention and three post-intervention measurements (directly after, and 6 and 12 months after the end of the programme). The study sample consists of children aged 10-12 years (grades 6, 7 and 8 of Dutch primary schools), who show symptoms of anxiety or depressive disorder. Data are collected through self-report, teacher report and peer nomination. A process evaluation is conducted to investigate programme integrity (whether the programme has been executed according to protocol) and to evaluate children's and parents' opinions about 'FRIENDS for Life' using online focus groups and interviews.
Discussion
The present study will provide insight into the effectiveness of 'FRIENDS for Life' as an indicated school-based prevention programme for children with early or mild signs of anxiety or depression.
Trial registration
Netherlands Trial Register (NTR): NTR2397
Keywords: Prevention, School-based intervention, Anxiety, Depression, Children, FRIENDS for Life, Cognitive-behavioural therapy
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