International Journal of Family Therapy

, Volume 1, Issue 4, pp 304-323

First online:

The McMaster family therapy outcome study: an overview of methods and results

  • Jack Santa-BarbaraAffiliated withResearch and Evaluation Service, Thistletown Regional Centre for Children and Adolescents
  • , Christel A. WoodwardAffiliated withMcMaster University
  • , Sol LevinAffiliated withCollege of Medicine, Northeastern University
  • , John T. GoodmanAffiliated withChildren's Hospital of Eastern Ontario
  • , David StreinerAffiliated withMcMaster University
  • , Nathan B. EpsteinAffiliated withBrown University

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A multifaceted outcome design was used to investigate the results of brief, system-oriented family therapy. The present report describes the methods used and provides an, overview of clients' status on a variety of outcome measures. Treatment was brief and involved the entire family in most cases. Therapists varied in discipline (psychiatry, social work, psychology or nursing) and experience (students to very senior status). A variety of measures were obtained at the beginning of treatment, at treatment closure, or after a six month follow-up. Independent interviewers conducted the six month follow-up. Measures were obtained regarding the parents' and children's level of intellectual functioning, children's academic achievement, and disruptive school behaviour. Therapists' ratings of the families' change in treatment and prognosis were also obtained at treatment closure. At follow-up, measures of the children's academic achievement and disruptive school behavior were repreated and the interviewers determined the family's satisfaction with the services they received. The results indicate that the majority of families did well on most of the measures considered. No significant change was found in terms of the children's academic performance, but there was a significant decline in their disruptive school behaviour.