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The Herts and Minds study: feasibility of a randomised controlled trial of Mentalization-Based Treatment versus usual care to support the wellbeing of children in foster care

Midgley, N; Besser, SJ; Fearon, P; Wyatt, S; Byford, S; Wellsted, D; (2019) The Herts and Minds study: feasibility of a randomised controlled trial of Mentalization-Based Treatment versus usual care to support the wellbeing of children in foster care. BMC Psychiatry , 19 , Article 215. 10.1186/s12888-019-2196-2. Green open access

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Abstract

Background: There is a lack of well-designed randomized controlled trials (RCTs) to investigate the efficacy of psychological therapies for children in foster care with emotional and behavioural difficulties. Mentalization-based therapy (MBT) focuses on supporting the carer-child relationship by promoting reflective capacity. This study examined the feasibility and acceptability of an RCT of MBT, delivered in a family-format, for children who are in foster care in the UK. Method: Herts and Minds was a phase II, blinded feasibility RCT with follow-up of at 12 and 24 weeks postrandomisation. Participants were children (age 5–16) in foster care referred to a targeted mental health service, who had some level of difficulty as identified by the Strengths and Difficulties Questionnaire (SDQ). Aims were to assess: the feasibility of recruitment processes and study uptake; capacity to train mental health practitioners to deliver MBT to an acceptable level of treatment integrity; establish acceptability and credibility of MBT as an intervention for children in foster care; establish feasibility and acceptability to participants of conducting an RCT; and estimate the likely treatment efficacy effect size. Participants were randomly allocated to either MBT (n = 15) or Usual Clinical Care (UCC) (n = 21) individually or in sibling groups. A range of qualitative and quantitative data was gathered to assess feasibility. Results: Feasibility was established with regard to: capacity to recruit participants to a study; capacity to train mental health practitioners to deliver MBT to an acceptable level of treatment integrity; acceptability and credibility of MBT; and feasibility and acceptability to participants of conducting an RCT. A number of issues made it difficult to estimate a likely treatment efficacy effect size. Conclusion: With modifications, it is feasible to run an RCT of MBT for children in foster care. Both the therapy and research design were acceptable to participants, but modifications may be needed regarding both the timing of assessments and the identification of appropriate primary outcome measures. Given the lack of evidenced based therapies for this population, such a trial would be a significant contribution to the field. Findings may be useful for other groups planning clinical trials of psychological therapies for children in foster care.

Type: Article
Title: The Herts and Minds study: feasibility of a randomised controlled trial of Mentalization-Based Treatment versus usual care to support the wellbeing of children in foster care
Location: England
Open access status: An open access version is available from UCL Discovery
DOI: 10.1186/s12888-019-2196-2
Publisher version: https://doi.org/10.1186/s12888-019-2196-2
Language: English
Additional information: This article is distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0/), which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided you give appropriate credit to the original author(s) and the source, provide a link to the Creative Commons license, and indicate if changes were made.
Keywords: Foster care, Mentalization, Mentalization-based treatment, Feasibility study, Looked after children, Randomised controlled trial
UCL classification: UCL
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > School of Life and Medical Sciences
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > School of Life and Medical Sciences > Faculty of Brain Sciences
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > School of Life and Medical Sciences > Faculty of Brain Sciences > Div of Psychology and Lang Sciences
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > School of Life and Medical Sciences > Faculty of Brain Sciences > Div of Psychology and Lang Sciences > Clinical, Edu and Hlth Psychology
URI: https://discovery.ucl.ac.uk/id/eprint/10077964
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