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Mary A. Fristad, PhD, ABPP

Award Name Community Pilot 2009
Award Date 03/01/2009


Effectiveness of Therapy for Children with Mood Disorders

Mary A. Fristad, PhD, ABPP, Professor of Psychiatry and Psychology at The Ohio State University (OSU), was awarded one of five pilot project grants for community engagement in research by The Ohio State University Center for Clinical and Translational Science. She is examining the effectiveness of multi-family psychoeducational psychotherapy (MF-PEP) for children with mood disorders in a community setting.

Partnered with Nationwide Children’s Hospital Behavioral Health, the study is evaluating a pilot implementation of MF-PEP at two local Close to Home Centers. MF-PEP is an eight-session, manual-driven treatment for children with mood disorders designed as an adjunct to current medications and psychotherapy. MF-PEP consists of separate parent and child groups, and teaches families about symptoms of mood disorders, medication management, problem solving and communication skills, and coping strategies. Dr. Fristad and her team completed a large-scale efficacy trial of MF-PEP at the OSU Medical Center, and results indicated MF-PEP was associated with increased knowledge of mood disorders, improved attitudes toward treatment, and decreased mood symptom severity. The current project extended the efficacy trial to determine if beneficial effects observed in a research setting will translate to a community setting. Differences in therapist training, facilities, financial resources, and families at university versus community settings can pose challenges to effectiveness research and affect whether the intervention is feasible and effective in when implemented in “real-world” settings.

Dr. Fristad will train clinicians to use “flexibility within fidelity” when implementing MF-PEP. Although there is a treatment manual outlining session content, therapists must be able to teach important skills reviewed in the manual while adapting lessons and activities to the developmental level and characteristics of different groups. The goal of this study is to determine if therapists are able to learn and implement MF-PEP, which aspects of MF-PEP work well in community settings, and which aspects are more difficult and may require adaptation.

The study will examine therapist satisfaction in training in and implementation of MF-PEP, changes in parental treatment beliefs and knowledge of mood disorders, changes in children’s treatment beliefs and mood symptoms, and referring therapists’ satisfaction with MF-PEP.

Dr. Fristad will be using data collected in the current study to apply for a larger grant which will include studying implementation of MF-PEP with more diverse populations, including urban, rural and Appalachian regions of the state.

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