Community and Health Systems
Development and Testing of the Family Management Efficacy Intervention for Primary Caregivers of Adolescents with Disruptive Behaviors in African American Families
My program of research has contributed knowledge on the needs of families of children with mental health concerns. While prior research has focused on primary caregivers of physically ill children, my research addresses the unique challenges experienced by all family members - including fathers, siblings, and extended family members - of children with psychiatric illnesses. This research has yielded practical suggestions for professionals who work with adolescents with Disruptive Behavior Disorders and their families and will provide foundational information for developing family- based interventions to address the needs of this population. Building on the above foundational work, I am developing and evaluating the Family Management Efficacy (FAME) intervention - a 6-week multiple family group intervention for primary caregivers of adolescents, 12-17 years old, in low-income African American families who had been diagnosed with Disruptive Behavior Disorders. The intervention is aimed at increasing the primary caregivers’ self-effiacy in managing interactions within the family and especially with child serving educational, mental health, and juvenile justice systems. One particularly important practice implication of an MFG approach is that it mitigates the mental health disparities associated with limited availability of providers for this population. (1). Evidence-based: The development of FAME involved a multitude of decisions made systematically and collaboratively between an interdisciplinary academic team, community engagement specialists, members of the targeted population, and clinical partners from a large public mental health system. (2). Inter/cross disciplinary: Our interdisciplinary academic research team with backgrounds in nursing, sociology, psychology, and music therapy worked in collaboration with a variety of community partners. (3). Goal oriented for the betterment of everyday life: The multiple family group format provides a safe environment for families to share their stories and learn from one another’s challenges and successes. Within this social network, family members practice a systematic approach to communication/problem solving in a structured, thoughtful manner that is proactive. Repeated practice increases family members’ confidence or self-efficacy in communication/problem solving skills that they can apply to other stressful family and/or child service system interactions. Our long-term goal is to develop an intervention that could be widely adopted in clinical practice to mitigate the mental health disparities associated with this population by improving caregivers’ agency in managing interactions with child serving systems, which could in turn lower their stress and improve their quality of life.