BACKGROUND:

Pediatric traumatic brain injury (TBI) contributes to impairments in functioning in everyday settings. Evidence suggests that online family problem-solving therapy (FPST) may be effective in reducing adolescent behavioral morbidity. This article examines the efficacy of Counselor-Assisted Problem Solving (CAPS), a form of online FPST in improving long-term functional outcomes of adolescents with TBI relative to Internet resources only.

METHODS:

Children, aged 12 to 17 years, who were hospitalized in the previous 7 months for TBI were enrolled in a multisite, assessor-blinded randomized controlled trial. Consented participants were randomly assigned to CAPS or an Internet resource comparison (IRC) condition. Outcomes were assessed at baseline and at follow-ups 6, 12, and 18 months postbaseline. The Child and Functional Assessment Scale and the Iowa Family Interaction Rating Scale (IFIRS) served as primary outcomes of child and family functioning respectively.

RESULTS:

For the Child and Functional Assessment Scale total, we found a significant group × time interaction, with less impaired functioning for the CAPS group than for the IRC group at the final follow-up. Parent education moderated the efficacy of CAPS on overall rates of impairment and school/work functioning, with the advantage of CAPS over IRC evident at the final follow-up only for participants with less-educated parents. Neither group differences nor group × time interactions were found for the IFIRS.

CONCLUSIONS:

Relatively brief, online treatment shortly after injury may result in long-term improvements in child functioning, particularly among families of lower socioeconomic status. Clinical implementation of CAPS during the initial months postinjury should be considered.

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