Skip to main content

The Evaluation of Boost Camp: A Universal School-Based Prevention Program Targeting Adolescent Emotion Regulation Skills

Abstract

The transition from childhood to adolescence often elicits psychological problems, which provides great opportunities for organizing universal, school-based prevention programs. The present study aims to evaluate the effectiveness of Boost Camp, a new prevention program targeting young adolescents’ emotion regulation skills. Junior high school adolescents (n = 347; 53% female, Mage = 11.92) from six schools were randomly allocated to the intervention condition (n = 139) or to the control condition (n = 208), using a clustered randomized controlled design. Program integrity was evaluated by adolescents, trainers, and independent coders. Questionnaires were used to assess primary outcomes (emotion regulation and emotional wellbeing), secondary outcomes (school achievement, bullying experiences, and psychological stigmatization), and moderators (gender, psychological problems, and executive functioning). Assessment of the main outcome variables was conducted at baseline, post intervention, and three as well as six months’ follow-up. Qualitative analyses showed a good program adherence and positive evaluations of the program. Furthermore, main results demonstrated that Boost Camp had short-term effects on depressive symptoms, self-esteem, indirect bullying experiences, and psychological stigmatization. However, no significant effects on emotion regulation were found and all beneficial effects immediately after the intervention disappeared at follow-up. Program effects were not moderated by gender, executive functioning impairments, or symptoms of psychopathology. These findings demonstrate that Boost Camp is feasible as a universal, school-based program and that it has the potential to enhance wellbeing outcomes, at least short-term and when implemented by external trainers. Several suggestions to optimize the program in order to obtain long-term effects are included in the discussion section.

This is a preview of subscription content, access via your institution.

Fig. 1

Availability of Data and Material (Data Transparency)

Data will be made available upon request.

References

  • Achenbach, T. M., & Edelbrock, C. (1991). Child behavior checklist. Burlington (Vt), 7.

  • Aldao, A., Nolen-Hoeksema, S., & Schweizer, S. (2010). Emotion-regulation strategies across psychopathology: A meta-analytic review. Clinical Psychology Review, 30(2), 217–237. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.cpr.2009.11.004

    Article  PubMed  Google Scholar 

  • Aldao, A., Sheppes, G., & Gross, J. J. (2015). Emotion regulation flexibility. Cognitive Therapy and Research, 39(3), 263–278. https://doi.org/10.1007/s10608-014-9662-4

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Beauchaine, T. P., Bell, Z., Knapton, E., McDonough-Caplan, H., Shader, T., & Zisner, A. (2019). Respiratory sinus arrhythmia reactivity across empirically based structural dimensions of psychopathology: A meta-analysis. Psychophysiology, 56(5), 13329. https://doi.org/10.1111/psyp.13329

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Berking, M., & Lukas, C. A. (2015). The Affect Regulation Training (ART): A transdiagnostic approach to the prevention and treatment of mental disorders. Current Opinion in Psychology, 3, 64–69. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.copsyc.2015.02.002

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Berking, M., Meier, C., & Wupperman, P. (2010). Enhancing emotion-regulation skills in police officers: Results of a pilot controlled study. Behavior Therapy, 41(3), 329–339. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.beth.2009.08.001

    Article  PubMed  Google Scholar 

  • Berking, M., & Whitley, B. (2013). Affect regulation training. Handbook of Emotion Regulation. Guilford (pp. 350–392).

  • Berking, M., & Whitley, B. (2014). Affect regulation training: A Practitioners' Manual. Springer.

  • Bloom, H. S., Richburg-Hayes, L., & Black, A. R. (2007). Using covariates to improve precision for studies that randomize schools to evaluate educational interventions. Educational Evaluation and Policy Analysis, 29(1), 30–59. https://doi.org/10.3102/0162373707299550

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Bonabi, H., Müller, M., Ajdacic-Gross, V., Eisele, J., Rodgers, S., Seifritz, E., Rössler, W., & Rüsch, N. (2016). Mental health literacy, attitudes to help seeking, and perceived need as predictors of mental health service use: A longitudinal study. The Journal of Nervous and Mental Disease, 204(4), 321–324. https://doi.org/10.1097/Nmd.0000000000000488

    Article  PubMed  Google Scholar 

  • Bradshaw, M., Gericke, H., Coetzee, B. J., Stallard, P., Human, S., & Loades, M. (2020). Universal school-based mental health programmes in low-and middle-income countries: A systematic review and narrative synthesis. Preventive Medicine, 143, 106317. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.ypmed.2020.106317

    Article  PubMed  Google Scholar 

  • Brooker, J., Julian, J., Webber, L., Chan, J., Shawyer, F., & Meadows, G. (2013). Evaluation of an occupational mindfulness program for staff employed in the disability sector in Australia. Mindfulness, 4(2), 122–136. https://doi.org/10.1007/s12671-012-0112-7

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Burckhardt, R., Manicavasagar, V., Batterham, P. J., Hadzi-Pavlovic, D., & Shand, F. (2017). Acceptance and commitment therapy universal prevention program for adolescents: A feasibility study. Child and Adolescent Psychiatry and Mental Health, 11(1), 27. https://doi.org/10.1186/s13034-017-0164-5

    Article  PubMed  PubMed Central  Google Scholar 

  • Buruck, G., Dörfel, D., Kugler, J., & Brom, S. S. (2016). Enhancing well-being at work: The role of emotion regulation skills as personal resources. Journal of Occupational Health Psychology, 21(4), 480. https://doi.org/10.1037/ocp0000023

    Article  PubMed  Google Scholar 

  • Calkins, S. D. (2010). Psychobiological models of adolescent risk: Implications for prevention and intervention. Developmental Psychobiology, 52(3), 213–215. https://doi.org/10.1002/dev.20435

    Article  PubMed  Google Scholar 

  • Chung, H., Elias, M., & Schneider, K. (1998). Patterns of individual adjustment changes during middle school transition. Journal of School Psychology, 36(1), 83–101. https://doi.org/10.1016/S0022-4405(97)00051-4

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Compas, B. E., Jaser, S. S., Bettis, A. H., Watson, K. H., Gruhn, M. A., Dunbar, J. P., Williams, E., & Thigpen, J. C. (2017). Coping, emotion regulation, and psychopathology in childhood and adolescence: A meta-analysis and narrative review. Psychological Bulletin, 143(9), 939–991. https://doi.org/10.1037/bul0000110

    Article  PubMed  PubMed Central  Google Scholar 

  • Copeland, W. E., Shanahan, L., Davis, M., Burns, B. J., Angold, A., & Costello, E. J. (2015). Increase in untreated cases of psychiatric disorders during the transition to adulthood. Psychiatric Services (Washington, D.C.), 66(4), 397–403. https://doi.org/10.1176/appi.ps.201300541

  • Coppens, E., Vermet, I., Knaeps, J., De Clerck, M., De Schrijver, I., Matot, J., & Van Audenhove, C. (2015). ADOCARE–A preparatory action related to the creation of an EU network of experts in the field of adapted care for adolescents with mental health problems.

  • De Girolamo, G., Dagani, J., Purcell, R., Cocchi, A., & McGorry, P. (2012). Age of onset of mental disorders and use of mental health services: Needs, opportunities and obstacles. Epidemiology and Psychiatric Sciences, 21(01), 47–57. https://doi.org/10.1017/S2045796011000746

    Article  PubMed  Google Scholar 

  • Demetriou, C., Ozer, B. U., & Essau, C. A. (2014). Self‐report questionnaires. The Encyclopedia of Clinical Psychology, 1–6.

  • DuPaul, G. J., Rapport, M. D., & Perriello, L. M. (1991). Teacher ratings of academic skills: The development of the Academic Performance Rating Scale. School Psychology Review, 20(2), 284–300. https://doi.org/10.1080/02796015.1991.12085552

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Durlak, J. A., Weissberg, R. P., Dymnicki, A. B., Taylor, R. D., & Schellinger, K. B. (2011). The impact of enhancing students’ social and emotional learning: A meta-analysis of school-based universal interventions. Child Development, 82(1), 405–432. https://doi.org/10.1111/j.1467-8624.2010.01564.x

    Article  PubMed  Google Scholar 

  • Ehrenreich-May, J., & Bilek, E. L. (2011). Universal prevention of anxiety and depression in a recreational camp setting: An Initial Open Trial [journal article]. Child & Youth Care Forum, 40(6), 435–455. https://doi.org/10.1007/s10566-011-9148-4

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Eisenberg, N., & Morris, A. S. (2002). Children’s emotion-related regulation. Advances in Child Development and Behavior, 30, 189–229.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Evans, S. W., Langberg, J., & Williams, J. (2003). Achieving generalization in school-based mental health. In Handbook of school mental health advancing practice and research (pp. 335–348). Springer.

  • García-Escalera, J., Valiente, R. M., Sandín, B., Ehrenreich-May, J., Prieto, A., & Chorot, P. (2020). The unified protocol for transdiagnostic treatment of emotional disorders in adolescents (UP-A) adapted as a school-based anxiety and depression prevention program: An initial cluster randomized wait-list-controlled trial. Behavior Therapy, 51(3), 461–473. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.beth.2019.08.003

    Article  PubMed  Google Scholar 

  • Gavine, A. J., Donnelly, P. D., & Williams, D. J. (2016). Effectiveness of universal school-based programs for prevention of violence in adolescents. Psychology of Violence, 6(3), 390–399. https://doi.org/10.1037/vio0000052

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Gioia, G. A., Isquith, P. K., Guy, S. C., & Kenworthy, L. (2000). Behavior rating inventory of executive function: BRIEF. Psychological Assessment Resources.

  • Gould, L. F., Dariotis, J. K., Greenberg, M. T., & Mendelson, T. (2016). Assessing fidelity of implementation for school-based mindfulness and Yoga Interventions: A systematic review. Mindfulness, 7(1), 5–33. https://doi.org/10.1007/s12671-015-0395-6

    Article  PubMed  Google Scholar 

  • Gratz, K. L., & Roemer, L. (2004). Multidimensional assessment of emotion regulation and dysregulation: Development, factor structure, and initial validation of the difficulties in emotion regulation scale. Journal of Psychopathology and Behavioral Assessment, 26(1), 41–54. https://doi.org/10.1023/B:Joba.0000007455.08539.94

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Grob, A., & Smolenski, C. (2005). Fragebogen zur erhebung der emotionsregulation bei kindern und jugendlichen (FEEL-KJ). Huber Verlag.

  • Gross, J. J. (2013). Emotion regulation: Taking stock and moving forward. Emotion, 13(3), 359.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Haring, N. G., & Eaton, M. D. (1978). Systematic instructional procedures: An instructional hierarchy. The Fourth R: Research in the Classroom, 23–40.

  • Harter, S. (1988). Manual for the self-perception profile for adolescents. University of Denver

  • Harter, S. (1993). Causes and consequences of low self-esteem in children and adolescents. R. Baumeister.

  • Higgins, E., & O’Sullivan, S. (2015). “What Works”: Systematic review of the “FRIENDS for Life” programme as a universal school-based intervention programme for the prevention of child and youth anxiety. Educational Psychology in Practice, 31(4), 424–438. https://doi.org/10.1080/02667363.2015.1086977

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Hishinuma, E. S., Chang, J. Y., McArdle, J. J., & Hamagami, F. (2012). Potential Causal Relationship Between Depressive Symptoms and Academic Achievement in the Hawaiian High Schools Health Survey Using Contemporary Longitudinal Latent Variable Change Models. Developmental Psychology, 48(5), 1327–1342. https://doi.org/10.1037/a0026978

    Article  PubMed  PubMed Central  Google Scholar 

  • Hodder, R. K., Freund, M., Wolfenden, L., Bowman, J., Nepal, S., Dray, J., Kingsland, M., Yoong, S. L., & Wiggers, J. (2017). Systematic review of universal school-based “resilience” interventions targeting adolescent tobacco, alcohol or illicit substance use: A meta-analysis. Preventive Medicine, 100, 248–268. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.ypmed.2017.04.003

    Article  PubMed  Google Scholar 

  • Hollingshead, A. B. (1975). Four factor index of social status.

  • Hostinar, C. E., & Cicchetti, D. (2019). Emotion dysregulation and internalizing spectrum disorders. In The Oxford Handbook of Emotion Dysregulation.

  • Huang, C. (2011). Self-concept and academic achievement: A meta-analysis of longitudinal relations. Journal of School Psychology, 49(5), 505–528. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.jsp.2011.07.001

    Article  PubMed  Google Scholar 

  • Johnson, C., Burke, C., Brinkman, S., & Wade, T. (2016). Effectiveness of a school-based mindfulness program for transdiagnostic prevention in young adolescents. Behaviour Research and Therapy, 81, 1–11. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.brat.2016.03.002

    Article  PubMed  Google Scholar 

  • Kovacs, M. (1992). CDI. Children’s Depression Inventory.

    Google Scholar 

  • Laurent, J., Catanzaro, S. J., Joiner, T. E., Rudolph, K. D., Potter, K. I., Lambert, S., Osborne, L., & Gathright, T. (1999). A measure of positive and negative affect for children: Scale development and preliminary validation. Psychological Assessment, 11(3), 326–338. https://doi.org/10.1037/1040-3590.11.3.326

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Lewis, A. R., Zinbarg, R. E., & Durbin, C. E. (2010). Advances, problems, and challenges in the Study of Emotion Regulation: A commentary. Journal of Psychopathology and Behavioral Assessment, 32(1), 83–91. https://doi.org/10.1007/s10862-009-9170-0

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Liebrand, J., & IJzendoorn, H. v., & Lieshout, C. v. . (1991). Klasgenoten relatie vragenlijst. Katholieke Universiteit Nijmegen.

    Google Scholar 

  • Lopes, P. N., Salovey, P., Côté, S., Beers, M., & Petty, R. E. (2005). Emotion regulation abilities and the quality of social interaction. Emotion, 5(1), 113. https://doi.org/10.1037/1528-3542.5.1.113

    Article  PubMed  Google Scholar 

  • Marchette, L. K., & Weisz, J. R. (2017). Practitioner review: Empirical evolution of youth psychotherapy toward transdiagnostic approaches. Journal of Child Psychology and Psychiatry, 58(9), 970–984. https://doi.org/10.1111/jcpp.12747

    Article  PubMed  Google Scholar 

  • McKeering, P., & Hwang, Y. S. (2019). A systematic review of mindfulness-based school interventions with early adolescents. Mindfulness, 10(4), 593–610. https://doi.org/10.1007/s12671-018-0998-9

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • McLaughlin, K. A., Hatzenbuehler, M. L., Mennin, D. S., & Nolen-Hoeksema, S. (2011). Emotion dysregulation and adolescent psychopathology: A prospective study. Behaviour Research and Therapy, 49(9), 544–554. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.brat.2011.06.003

    Article  PubMed  PubMed Central  Google Scholar 

  • Mohammadi, A., Soleimani, M., Mohammadi, M. R., Abasi, I., & Foroughi, A. A. (2019). Unified protocol for transdiagnostic prevention of depression and anxiety in Iranian Adolescents: Protocol development and initial outcome data. Iranian Journal of Psychiatry, 14(2), 171–178.

    PubMed  PubMed Central  Google Scholar 

  • Morris, A. S., Silk, J. S., Steinberg, L., Myers, S. S., & Robinson, L. R. (2007). the role of the family context in the development of emotion regulation. Social Development (oxford, England), 16(2), 361–388. https://doi.org/10.1111/j.1467-9507.2007.00389.x

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Olweus, D. (1996). Revised Olweus bully/victim questionnaire. British Journal of Educational Psychology. https://doi.org/10.1037/t09634-000

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Pinto, M. D., Hickman, R. L., & Thomas, T. L. (2015). Stigma scale for receiving psychological help (SSRPH) an examination among adolescent girls. Western Journal of Nursing Research, 37(12), 1644–1661. https://doi.org/10.1177/0193945914543954

    Article  PubMed  Google Scholar 

  • Radloff, L. S. (1977). The CES-D scale: A self-report depression scale for research in the general population. Applied Psychological Measurement, 1(3), 385–401.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Radloff, L. S. (1991). The use of the Center for Epidemiologic Studies Depression Scale in adolescents and young adults. Journal of Youth and Adolescence, 20(2), 149–166. https://doi.org/10.1007/Bf01537606

    Article  PubMed  Google Scholar 

  • Ravens-Sieberer, U., Erhart, M., Rajmil, L., Herdman, M., Auquier, P., Bruil, J., Power, M., Duer, W., Abel, T., & Czemy, L. (2010). Reliability, construct and criterion validity of the KIDSCREEN-10 score: A short measure for children and adolescents’ well-being and health-related quality of life. Quality of Life Research, 19(10), 1487–1500. https://doi.org/10.1007/s11136-010-9706-5

    Article  PubMed  PubMed Central  Google Scholar 

  • Roeser, R. W., Eccles, J. S., & Sameroff, A. J. (2000). School as a context of early adolescents’ academic and social-emotional development: A summary of research findings. Elementary School Journal, 100(5), 443–471. https://doi.org/10.1086/499650

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Sanchez, A. L., Cornacchio, D., Poznanski, B., Golik, A. M., Chou, T., & Comer, J. S. (2018). The Effectiveness of School-Based Mental Health Services for Elementary-Aged Children: A Meta-Analysis. Journal of the American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry, 57(3), 153–165. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.jaac.2017.11.022

    Article  PubMed  Google Scholar 

  • Silk, J. S., Steinberg, L., & Morris, A. S. (2003). Adolescents’ emotion regulation in daily life: Links to depressive symptoms and problem behavior. Child Development, 74(6), 1869–1880. https://doi.org/10.1046/j.1467-8624.2003.00643.x

    Article  PubMed  Google Scholar 

  • Somerville, L. H., Jones, R. M., & Casey, B. J. (2010). A time of change: Behavioral and neural correlates of adolescent sensitivity to appetitive and aversive environmental cues. Brain and Cognition, 72(1), 124–133. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.bandc.2009.07.003

    Article  PubMed  Google Scholar 

  • Spielberger, C. D. (2010). State‐Trait anxiety inventory. The Corsini encyclopedia of psychology, 1.

  • Steinberg, L. (2005). Cognitive and affective development in adolescence. Trends in Cognitive Sciences, 9(2), 69–74. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.tics.2004.12.005

    Article  PubMed  Google Scholar 

  • Tanner-Smith, E. E., Durlak, J. A., & Marx, R. A. (2018). Empirically based mean effect size distributions for universal prevention programs targeting school-aged youth: A review of meta-analyses. Prevention Science: THe Official Journal of the Society for Prevention Research, 19(8), 1091–1101. https://doi.org/10.1007/s11121-018-0942-1

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Volkaert, B., Wante, L., Vervoort, L., & Braet, C. (2018). “Boost Camp”, a universal school-based transdiagnostic prevention program targeting adolescent emotion regulation; evaluating the effectiveness by a clustered RCT: A protocol paper. BMC Public Health, 18(1), 904. https://doi.org/10.1186/s12889-018-5754-5

    Article  PubMed  PubMed Central  Google Scholar 

  • Volkaert, B., Wante, L., Vervoort, L., & Braet, C. (2019). Training adaptive emotion regulation strategies in early adolescents: The effects of distraction, acceptance, cognitive reappraisal, and problem solving. Cognitive Therapy and Research.

  • Wante, L., Van Beveren, M. L., Theuwis, L., & Braet, C. (2018). The effects of emotion regulation strategies on positive and negative affect in early adolescents. Cognition & Emotion, 32(5), 988–1002. https://doi.org/10.1080/02699931.2017.1374242

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Werner-Seidler, A., Perry, Y., Calear, A. L., Newby, J. M., & Christensen, H. (2017). School-based depression and anxiety prevention programs for young people: A systematic review and meta-analysis. Clinical Psychology Review, 51, 30–47. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.cpr.2016.10.005

    Article  PubMed  Google Scholar 

  • Weymeis, H., Van Leeuwen, K., & Braet, C. (2019). Adaptive emotion regulation, academic performance and internalising problems in Flemish children with special educational needs: A pilot study. European Journal of Special Needs Education, 34(1), 124–135. https://doi.org/10.1080/08856257.2017.1421601

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Wisner, B. L., Jones, B., & Gwin, D. (2010). School-based meditation practices for adolescents: A resource for strengthening self-regulation, emotional coping, and self-esteem. Children & Schools, 32(3), 150–159. https://doi.org/10.1093/cs/32.3.150

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Zelazo, P. D., & Cunningham, W. A. (2007). Executive Function: Mechanisms Underlying Emotion Regulation. In J. J. Gross (Ed.), Handbook of emotion regulation (pp. 135–158). The Guilford Press.

    Google Scholar 

Download references

Funding

This work was supported by the Research Foundation – Flanders (FWO) [GWO17/PRJ/482] and the Special Research Fund Ghent University (BOF) [BOF.24J.2016.0007.02)].

Author information

Authors and Affiliations

Authors

Corresponding author

Correspondence to Brenda Volkaert.

Ethics declarations

Ethics Approval

All procedures performed in current study were in accordance with the ethical standards of the ethical committee of Ghent University and with the 1964 Helsinki declaration and its later amendments or comparable ethical standards.

Consent to Participate

As the prevention program was part of the class curriculum, all first-graders from the participating schools joined the program, but parents and children had to give active consent for including their data in the study and were free to withdraw their consent at any point.

Conflict of interest

CB is co-author of the official Dutch translation of both the CDI and the FEEL-KJ and received royalties for this. Other authors declare that they have no competing interests.

Additional information

Publisher's Note

Springer Nature remains neutral with regard to jurisdictional claims in published maps and institutional affiliations.

Rights and permissions

Reprints and Permissions

About this article

Verify currency and authenticity via CrossMark

Cite this article

Volkaert, B., Wante, L., Loeys, T. et al. The Evaluation of Boost Camp: A Universal School-Based Prevention Program Targeting Adolescent Emotion Regulation Skills. School Mental Health 14, 440–453 (2022). https://doi.org/10.1007/s12310-021-09478-y

Download citation

  • Accepted:

  • Published:

  • Issue Date:

  • DOI: https://doi.org/10.1007/s12310-021-09478-y

Keywords

  • Universal prevention
  • Transdiagnostic program
  • Emotion regulation
  • Aadolescence
  • RCT