It has been well documented that only about 10% of adolescents with clinically diagnosable substance use problems receive treatment in any given year. One of the major contributing factors to chronic levels of unmet need for treatment among this population is the unavailability and inaccessibility of treatment services. Service accessibilty is particularly limited in rural areas. To address problems of service availability and accessibiliy in rural areas, the use of video teleconferencing technology to provide direct services has emerged within the fields of medicine and psychiatry in particular. The use of such technology to enhance the delivery of behavioral psychotherapy is beginning to emerge as well. A handful of primarily small-scale pilot and feasibility studies indicate that psychotherapy interventions administered using video teleconferencing technology may be as effective as traditional face-to-face interventions. Few randomized clinical trials of telepsychotherapy have been conducted to date, however, and virtually none have examined video teleconferencing interventions for any type of child or adolescent behavioral problem including substance abuse. The proposed study is intended to address the need for research evaluating the application of video teleconferencing technology as a means of service delivery for substance abusing adolescents and their families living in rural areas. Specifically, the current proposal is a randomized clinical trial testing th efficacy of Functional Family Therapy (FFT) administered by video teleconference (FFT-V) in the homes of substance abusing adolescents. In the proposed investigation, FFT-V will be compared with FFT administered face-to- face in the family home as well as to a services-as-usual (SAU) condition. The overarching objective of the study is to examine the degree to which an empirically based model of substance abuse treatment such as FFT can be effectively administered via video teleconferencing to adolescents and families living in rural and remote areas who would be otherwise unlikely to access treatment.
The specific aims of the proposed study are to (1) evaluate the efficacy of FFT-V compared to FFT and SAU in reducing adolescent drug use, HIV risk behavior, delinquency, and recidivism, (2) evaluate the efficacy of FFT-V compared to FFT in establishing functional levels of therapeutic alliance formation, treatment attendance, retention, and satisfaction with treatment, (3) evaluate the efficacy of FFT-V compared to FFT and SAU in impacting core mechanisms of change in adolescent behavior including improved levels of family functioning and adolescent association with substance using peers, and (4) conduct a preliminary cost-effectiveness analysis to derive initial estimates of the relative costs of each treatment modality per outcome unit. .
It is well known that adolescents and families in rural communities face substantial limitations in the availability and accessibility of substance abuse treatment and other health care services. This study addresses this disparity in access to services by investigating the feasibility and efficacy of providing treatment for substance abuse and associated behavioral problems such as delinquency and HIV risk behavior to adolescents in rural areas using web-based video teleconferencing technology.