Casu G, Hlebec V, Boccaletti L, Bolko I, Manattini A, Hanson E
Int J Environ Res Public Health 18 (4) - [2021-02-19; online 2021-02-19]
It is estimated that 4-8% of youth in Europe carry out substantial care for a family member or significant other. To prevent adverse psychosocial outcomes in young carers (YCs), primary prevention resilience building interventions have been recommended. We describe the study protocol of an international randomized controlled trial (RCT) of an innovative group intervention designed to promote the mental health and well-being of adolescent YCs (AYCs) aged 15-17. The RCT will be conducted in six European countries in the context of the Horizon 2020 European funded research and innovation project "Psychosocial support for promoting mental health and well-being among adolescent young caregivers in Europe" ("ME-WE"). The ME-WE intervention is based on Hayes and Ciarrochi's psychoeducational model for adolescents and will consist of seven 2-h sessions in a group format, aimed to help AYCs build psychological flexibility and live according to their values. The control group will be a waitlist. Primary and secondary outcomes and control variables will be measured at baseline (T0), post-intervention (T1) and 3 months follow-up (T2). The COVID-19 pandemic has made amendments necessary to the original study protocol methodology, which we describe in detail. This study will contribute to building an evidence-based manualized program that educators and health and social care professionals can use to support AYCs in their transition to adulthood. From a research perspective, the outcomes of this study will contribute to evidence-based practices in primary prevention of psychosocial difficulties in AYCs and will gather novel knowledge on the effectiveness of Hayes and Ciarrochi's model for use with middle adolescents with caring responsibilities. The trial has been preregistered (registration number: NCT04114864).