Feasibility Study of Back2School, a Modular Cognitive Behavioral Intervention for Youth With School Attendance Problems

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There is large heterogeneity among youth with school attendance problems (SAPs). For this reason, protocols for the treatment of SAPs need to be flexible. Back2School (B2S) is a new manual-based, modular transdiagnostic cognitive behavioral intervention to increase school attendance among youth with SAPs. It also aims to increase the self-efficacy of these youth and their parents. B2S includes evidence-based modules addressing youth anxiety, depression, and behavior problems, together with modules focused on parent guidance and school consultation. The current study examined the feasibility of evaluating B2S in an randomized controlled trial and acceptability of the B2S program in a non-randomized trial, including both qualitative and quantitative data, in preparation for a randomized controlled trial of its effectiveness. Youth, parents, and teachers completed questionnaires at baseline, post-intervention, and follow-up. School attendance data were collected from school registers. Twenty-four youth with a SAP (defined as more than 10% absenteeism during the last 3 months) were recruited from primary and lower secondary schools in Aarhus Municipality, Denmark. Their parents also participated in B2S. Two of the 24 families withdrew during the intervention, after sessions two and six respectively. Of the remaining 22 families, 19 (86%) completed all 10 sessions. Parents and youth rated their satisfaction with B2S as high, and high levels of satisfaction were maintained 1 year after the intervention. Teacher satisfaction was lower than that of youth and parents, but the majority found the school’s participation in the intervention helpful. Preliminary evaluation of intervention outcomes showed significant increase in school attendance and decrease in psychological symptoms, as well as a significant increase in self-efficacy for both youth and parents. Based on this feasibility data, adaptations were made to the B2S manual and study procedures prior to commencement of a randomized controlled effectiveness trial. The main adaptation to the manual was to increase school consultation. The main procedural adaptation was to broaden recruitment. Furthermore, it was necessary to increase level of staffing by psychologists because treatment delivery was more time consuming than expected.

Original languageEnglish
Article number586
JournalFrontiers in Psychology
Number of pages15
Publication statusPublished - Apr 2020

    Research areas

  • acceptability, Back2School, cognitive behavioral therapy, feasibility, school attendance problems, transdiagnostic, youths

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