Leaping hurdles: pilot study into the effectiveness of an occupation-based group for anxious and depressed children

Tokolahi, Ema
Billington, Rex
Shepherd, Daniel
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Master of Health Science
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Auckland University of Technology

This research evaluated the acceptability and effectiveness of Leaping Hurdles: an occupation-based anxiety and mood management group intervention for children aged 10-14 years, (alongside a parallel parenting group). The intervention was conducted at a government-funded Child and Adolescent Mental Health Service (CAMHS) and children referred to the group as clinically indicated were invited to participate in the research (n=34). The research used a quasi-experimental, repeated measures design with no randomisation. Self- and parent-rated clinical measures were used: Beck Youth Inventory-II (BYI), Child Behaviour Checklist (CBCL), and Occupational Questionnaire (OQ); as well as the clinician-rated Children’s Global Assessment Scale (CGAS) and Health of the Nations Outcome Scale for Children and Adolescents (HoNOSCA). Measurement tools were administered at waitlist, pre-group, post-group, and three months follow-up to allow for comparison to a control group (waitlist) and exploration of retention of change. Data was examined using descriptive analysis, repeated measures t-tests, one-way ANOVAs and analysis of correlation coefficients. This was further extended through exploration of six case studies. The power calculations were low (<.74) and the effect sizes moderate or higher. No difference in self- or parent-rated symptomology was reported between waitlist and pre-group measurements. Descriptive analysis found a trend of improvement pre- to post-group in anxiety and depression symptoms as reported by the children. A significant improvement in pre- to post-group symptomology and level of functioning as reported by the parents and clinicians was also found. Descriptive analysis of the follow-up findings indicated the self- and parent-rated outcome measures continued to improve. A summary of the case studies suggested that males and those engaged in treatment as usual for less time - prior to commencing the group - were more likely to attain better outcomes. This research study was not randomised so it cannot be stated conclusively that the intervention was responsible for the changes found. However, early indications with the small sample size suggest that Leaping Hurdles impacted on reducing symptomology and increasing functioning: further research with a larger sample size is indicated.

Occupation , Children , Repeated measures design , Group treatment , Anxiety/depression , Occupational disruption
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