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Reducing Substance Use Risk and Mental Health Problems Among Sexually Assaulted Adolescents: A Pilot Randomized Controlled Trial

NCJ Number
Journal of Family Psychology Volume: 26 Issue: 4 Dated: 2012 Pages: 628-635
Date Published
8 pages

The authors describe their pilot, randomized controlled trial to evaluate the feasibility and effectiveness of Risk Reduction through Family Therapy at reducing the substance-use risk and trauma-related mental health problems among adolescents who have experienced sexual assault; they present their research methodology, outcomes, and a discussion of implications.


This article reports the results from a pilot, randomized controlled trial that evaluated the feasibility and efficacy of Risk Reduction through Family Therapy (RRFT) for reducing substance-use risk and trauma-related mental health problems among sexually assaulted adolescents. Thirty adolescents who had experienced at least one sexual assault, and their caregivers were randomized to RRFT or treatment as usual (TAU) conditions. Participants completed measures of substance use, substance use risk factors (e.g., family functioning), mental health problems (i.e., post-traumatic stress disorder, depression, and general internalizing/externalizing symptoms) and risky sexual behavior at four time-points: baseline, post-treatment, and three- and six-month follow-up. Mixed-effects regression models yielded significantly greater reductions in substance use, specific substance use risk factors, and (parent-reported) PTSD, depression, and general internalizing symptoms among youth in the RRFT condition relative to youth in the TAU condition. However, significant baseline differences in functioning between the two conditions warrant caution in interpreting between-groups findings. Instead, emphasis is placed on replication of feasibility findings and within-group improvements over time among the RRFT youth. Publisher Abstract Provided

Date Published: January 1, 2012