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Improving Mental Health Outcomes of Burmese Migrant and Displaced Children in Thailand: A Community-Based Randomized Controlled Trial of a Parenting and Family Skills Intervention

NCJ Number
Prevention Science Volume: 18 Dated: 2017 Pages: 793-803
Jeannie Annan; Amanda L. Sim; Eve S. Puffer; Carmel Salhi; Theresa S. Betancourt
Date Published
11 pages

The authors discuss their examination of the efficacy of a parenting skills intervention on mental health outcomes among Burmese migrant and displaced children who were living in Thailand.


The negative effects of displacement and poverty on child mental health are well-known, yet research on prevention interventions in low- and middle-income countries, especially fragile states, remains limited. We examined the effectiveness of a parenting skills intervention on mental health outcomes among Burmese migrant and displaced children living in 20 communities in Thailand. Participants were primary caregivers and children aged 7 to 15 years (n = 479 families). Families were randomly assigned to receive an adapted version of the Strengthening Families Program (n = 240) or a wait-list control condition (n = 239). Assessments were conducted at baseline and 1-month post-intervention for both conditions and at 6 months for treatment group only. One month after the program, children in the treatment condition showed significant reductions in externalizing problems (caregiver effect size (ES) −0.22, p = 0.02; child report ES −0.11, p = 0.02) and child attention problems compared with controls (caregiver report ES −0.23, p = 0.03). There was no significant treatment effect on children’s internalizing problems (ES −0.06; p = 0.31). Children reported a significant increase in prosocial protective factors relative to controls (ES 0.20, p < 0.01). Results suggest that an evidence-based parenting skills intervention adapted for a displaced and migrant Burmese population facing high levels of adversity can have positive effects on children’s externalizing symptoms and protective psychosocial factors. Publisher Abstract Provided