Childhood mood disorders lack sufficient evidence-based treatments. While psychosocial treatments are recommended for both childhood depression and bipolar disorder, empirical support is scarce.
To determine whether adjunctive multifamily psychoeducational psychotherapy would improve outcome for children aged 8 to 12 years with depression or bipolar disorder.
One hundred sixty-five children were studied in a randomized controlled trial of multifamily psychoeducational psychotherapy plus treatment as usual (n = 78) compared with a wait-list control (WLC) condition plus treatment as usual (n = 87). Assessments occurred at baseline and at 6, 12, and 18 months. Intervention occurred between baseline and 6 months for the immediate treatment group and between 12 and 18 months for the WLC group.
University medical center.
Children were recruited from mental health and physical health care providers, media contacts, and word of mouth. All had a major mood disorder (major depressive disorder or dysthymic disorder, 30%; bipolar disorder type I, type II, or not otherwise specified, 70%).
Children and 1 or more parents participated in eight 90-minute multifamily psychoeducational psychotherapy sessions. Parent and child groups met separately but began and ended sessions together.
Main Outcome Measures
The Mood Severity Index (MSI) combines Mania Rating Scale and Children's Depression Rating Scale–Revised scores.
Multifamily psychoeducational psychotherapy plus treatment as usual was associated with lower MSI scores at follow-up in intent-to-treat analyses compared with WLC plus treatment as usual (MSI: χ21 = 4.55; P = .03). The WLC group showed a similar decrease in MSI scores 1 year later, when also following their treatment (MSI decrease = 3.24 units per 6 months in the immediate treatment group and 3.50 units per 6 months in the WLC group).
Brief, adjunctive psychoeducational group psychotherapy is associated with improved outcome for children aged 8 to 12 years with major mood disorders.
clinicaltrials.gov Identifier: NCT00050557