Problematic peer relations, particularly when chronic, can have a tremendous impact on children's functioning and mental health. Decades of research indicate that peer rejection, isolation, and victimization negatively impact adjustment and place children at increased risk for a myriad of later negative outcomes. Prevention and treatment research supports the use of social skills group therapy for improving children's peer relations, social behavior, and emotional adjustment. However, focusing exclusively on the child is not as effective as multi-component intervention efforts that extend beyond the group setting. This Competing Renewal project will continue the research and development of a parent-focused intervention, Parent Guide to SSGRIN, which parallels an established child-focused intervention [Social Skills Group Intervention (S.S. GRIN);for children ages 5-12years], in order to teach and reinforce the same social skills and concepts within the home environment. Phase II objectives of creating the complete Parent Guide intervention product and conducting pilot efficacy research were successfully accomplished. However, the limited scope of the Phase II research project leaves critical questions unanswered regarding the treatment's effectiveness, particularly its relative impact above and beyond the SSGRIN intervention alone. As 3-C ISD has moved the Parent Guide product into Phase III commercialization, it has become increasingly evident that further R&D is critical to commercializing this product. Therefore, a primary goal of this Competing Renewal is to conduct a rigorous, large-scale, longitudinal research project that is adequately powered to address questions of relative impact, longer-term treatment benefits, and differential treatment effects across settings and populations. Another lesson learned during Phase II and subsequent commercialization efforts is that the Parent Guide's current design is impractical for the school setting. Though schools often struggle with how to increase parent involvement in school-based programs, school officials report that it is infeasible for them to conduct the full series of in-person parent training groups as the Parent Guide's current curriculum demands. As a result, the commercial potential for the product is greatly restricted. Therefore, a second goal of this Competing Renewal is to incorporate Phase II findings, commercialization feedback, and stakeholder input into the creation of a Home-study version of the Parent Guide, which would utilize 3-C's innovative web- and video- based technology to bridge training into the home environment. Once developed, the Home-study version of the Parent Guide will be included as a separate treatment condition within the effectiveness trial and will also be evaluated for feasibility specifically within the school setting. The proposed Competing Renewal project will support further product development so that the Parent Guide can be successfully extended into the school setting, a primary mental health service sector for children, and will also ensure extensive, large-scale testing of this product to address key research questions that are imperative for achieving both scientific and commercial goals.
Problematic peer relations, particularly when chronic, can have a tremendous impact on children's mental health as well as their behavioral and emotional functioning. Without intervention, social and behavioral problems tend to persist and escalate over time which, in turn, has a tremendous impact on the development of psychopathology. Ultimately, socio-emotional deficits and the consequent emergence of a myriad of negative outcomes, including heightened risk for psychiatric disorders and use of mental health services have a negative impact not only on the individual, but also on the family and society as a whole, and are considered a serious public health issue. Mental illnesses come with a devastatingly high financial cost. In the US, the annual economic, indirect cost of mental illnesses is estimated to be $79 billion. In 1997, the latest year comparable data are available, the US spent more than $1 trillion on health care, including almost $71 billion on treating mental illnesses. Given the costs associated with psychiatric disorders and use of mental health services, the development and testing of innovative and flexible interventions for children with applications to varied settings are especially important. At the first sign of difficulties, preventive interventions can be started to keep problems from escalating. Offering an effective, parallel parent-focused product as part of a comprehensive, multi-component intervention to enhance the social, emotional, and behavioral adjustment of children will provide a valuable resource for providers in school and community settings as well as parents seeking an evidence-based tool for working with their children.