Stormshak receives NIDA award for substance abuse intervention program

Beth Stormshak, director of UO’s Prevention Science Institute, and John Seeley, senior research scientist at the Oregon Research Institute have been awarded a five-year grant from the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA), an institute within the National Institutes of Health (NIH). The award will support their efforts in testing the efficacy of an online version of the Family Check-Up (FCU), a family-centered intervention model designed to reduce problem behavior and substance abuse in middle-school youth.

The new FCU-Online will incorporate the successful components of the original model, including a strengths-based assessment which provides a wealth of information about child behavior, parenting skills, family dynamics and life stressors.

Research on the delivery of mental health interventions via the Internet suggests that a coach or “in person” contact enhances outcomes. The online model is designed to be used by parents without assistance of a coach. The research program will compare the effectiveness of an online version that includes a coach to an online-only version that requires no staffing at schools.

Approximately 300 families will participate in the program. Participants will either receive no intervention, the FCU-Online in Web and mobile format only, or the FCU-Online with a professional coach.

A prior version of the FCU website was designed to support therapists and school practitioners. The new, easily accessible online version will disseminate the program to a broader audience, allowing parents to use the model in the school or at home.

Stormshak and Seeley will test the online version for effectiveness in changing key parenting constructs, such as positive parenting and parental monitoring, which could lead to reductions in risk behavior. This research will significantly contribute to the understanding of effective interventions for adolescents during the transition to high school, and it can significantly contribute to the overall uptake and dissemination of family-centered interventions in schools.

The core mission of the Prevention Science Institute is to improve the lives and well-being of at-risk children, individuals, and families throughout the lifespan. Stormshak, whose research focuses developing and implementing family-centered, school-based interventions to reduce future risk of substance use and antisocial behavior, was the principal investigator on the original FCU website.