Siblings and parents of children with neurodevelopmental disorders are at risk of mental health problems and poorer family communication. Some group interventions for siblings exist, but few have clearly described parent components and none are considered evidence-based.
We are conducting a randomized controlled trial comparing a five-session manual-based group intervention for siblings (aged 8 to 16 years) and parents of children with neurodevelopmental disorders to a 12-week waitlist, called SIBS-RCT. The intervention comprises three separate sibling and parent group sessions and two joint sessions in which each sibling talks to their parent alone. The intervention aims at improving parent-child communication and covers themes such as siblings’ understanding of the neurodevelopmental disorder, siblings’ emotions, and perceived family challenges. Participants are recruited through municipal and specialist health centers across Norway. The primary outcome is sibling mental health. Quality of life and family communication are secondary outcomes. Participants are block-randomized to the intervention or 12-week waitlist in groups of six. Measures are collected electronically at pre- and post-intervention/waitlist, as well as 3, 6, and 12 months post-intervention. The main effect to be examined is the difference between the intervention and waitlist at 12 weeks post. All outcomes will also be examined using growth curve analyses. We plan to include 288 siblings and their parents by the end of 2022.
SIBS-RCT represents a major contribution to the research and practice field towards establishing an evidence-based intervention for siblings. In the event that intervention and waitlist are no different, the impact of SIBS-RCT is still substantial in that we will aim to identify participant subgroups that show positive response and effective components of the SIBS manual by examining group leader adherence as an outcome predictor. This will allow us to continue to re-engineer the SIBS manual iteratively to improve outcomes, and avoid the promotion of a less-than-optimal intervention.
ClinicalTrials.gov NCT04056884. Registered in August 2019
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