Children of substance-abusing parents are at risk for developing psychosocial development problems. In Germany it is estimated that approx. 2.65 million children are affected by parental substance abuse or dependence. Only ten percent of them receive treatment when parents are treated. To date, no evaluated programme for children from substance-affected families exists in Germany. The study described in this protocol is designed to test the effectiveness of the group programme TRAMPOLINE for children aged 8-12 years with at least one substance-abusing or -dependent caregiver. The intervention is specifically geared to issues and needs of children from substance-affected families.
The effectiveness of the manualised nine-session group programme TRAMPOLINE is tested among N = 218 children from substance-affected families in a multicentre randomised controlled trial. Outpatient counselling facilities across the nation from different settings (rural/urban, Northern/Southern/Eastern/Western regions of the country) will deliver the interventions, as they hold the primary access to the target group in Germany. The control condition is a group programme with the same duration that is not addiction-specific. We expect that participants in the intervention condition will show a significant improvement in the use of adaptive coping strategies (in general and within the family) compared to the control condition as a direct result of the intervention. Data is collected shortly before and after as well as six months after the intervention.
In Germany, the study presented here is the first to develop and evaluate a programme for children of substance-abusing parents. Limitations and strengths are discussed with a special focus on recruitment challenges as they appear to be the most potent threat to feasibility in the difficult-to-access target group at hand (Trial registration: ISRCTN81470784).
Keywords: Selective prevention, Children of substance abusers, Prevention programmes, Substance-affected families, RCT, At-risk children