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Family Involvement and Changes in Child Behavior During Residential Mental Health Treatment



Family involvement is viewed as an important component of the treatment process for children in residential treatment centers, but little is known about the impact of contact with family members on changes in youth functioning.


The goal of this study was to use administrative data to examine the association between family involvement and youth outcomes for a Medicaid-funded residential treatment program in Florida. Differences between in-person and telephone intervention contacts based on the proximity of the family residence to the program were also explored.


The sample was divided into two groups based on the number of family contacts per month during the treatment episode; i.e., number of family contacts equal to or less than the median and number of family contacts greater than the median. Generalized estimating equations were used to examine characteristics related to the percent change in scores on a measure of emotional and behavioral functioning.


Results suggest that maternal and paternal contacts, as well as the total number of family contacts, were associated with greater improvements in youth functioning. Youth that resided in a different county than the residential program had greater improvement in behaviors when the family was involved regardless of whether contact was in-person or over the phone.


Family involvement, including phone contacts, is associated with improved youth outcomes during the treatment episode.

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Correspondence to John Robst.

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Robst, J., Rohrer, L., Armstrong, M. et al. Family Involvement and Changes in Child Behavior During Residential Mental Health Treatment. Child Youth Care Forum 42, 225–238 (2013).

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  • Residential treatment
  • Child behavior
  • Family involvement
  • Treatment outcomes