Tuesday, December 17, 2013

SAMHSA Gives High Marks to Evidence for Effectiveness of Child Behavioral Management Services

Behavioral management services for children—services designed to help develop or maintain pro-social behaviors in the home, school, or community—should be considered for inclusion in health plans, according to “Behavioral Management for Children and Adolescents: Assessing the Evidence,” a review of evidence commissioned by the federal Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) and just published in Psychiatric Services in Advance.

Researchers reviewed literature on behavioral management for children and adolescents published from 1995 through 2012. They chose from three levels of evidence (high, moderate, and low) based on benchmarks for the number of studies and quality of their methodology. An example of a behavioral management service is Parent-Child Interaction Therapy, which uses in-person coaching of parents during parent-child interactions to help parents establish nurturing relationships with their children, clear parent-child communication and limit setting, and consistent contingencies for child behavior.

The level of evidence for behavioral management was rated as high because of the number of well-designed randomized controlled trials across settings, particularly for family-centered and integrated family- and school-based interventions. Results for the effectiveness of behavioral management interventions were strong, depending on the type of intervention and mode of implementation.

“Further research addressing the mechanisms of effect and specific populations, particularly at the school level, will assist in bolstering the evidence base for this important category of clinical intervention,” the SAMHSA researchers said.

The review is part of the Assessing the Evidence Base series, commissioned by SAMHSA to review the evidence for commonly used, recovery-focused mental health and substance use services. For more information on mental health aspects of child behavior, see “Normal Child and Adolescent Development: A Psychodynamic Primer,” new from American Psychiatric Publishing.

(Image: vesna cvorovic/shutterstock.com)