Supporting Syrian families displaced by armed conflict : A pilot randomized controlled trial of the Caregiver Support Intervention

Background: The impact of armed conflict and displacement on children’s mental health is strongly mediated by compromised parenting stemming from persistently high caregiver stress. Parenting interventions for refugees emphasize the acquisition of parenting knowledge and skills, while overlooking the deleterious effects of chronic stress on parenting. War Child Holland’s Caregiver Support Intervention (CSI) aims to strengthen parenting by lowering stress and improving psychosocial wellbeing among refugee parents, while also increasing knowledge and skill related to positive parenting. The CSI is a nine-session group intervention delivered by non-specialist providers. 

Objective: We describe the findings of a two-arm pilot randomized controlled trial of the CSI with Syrian refugees in Lebanon. The primary aim was to test the feasibility of our study methodology prior to conducting a definitive RCT. 

Methods: We recruited 78 families (151 parents), who were randomized to the CSI or a waitlist control group. Data were collected at baseline and post-intervention. 

Results: Randomization was successful, retention was high (99 %), as was intervention completion (95 % among women, 86 % among men). Implementation fidelity was excellent. Blinding was largely, though not completely effective. The CSI group showed significantly increased parental warmth and responsiveness, decreased harsh parenting, lowered stress and distress, improved psychosocial wellbeing, and improved stress management. CSI parents reported increased child psychosocial wellbeing. Control families showed no significant change on any variable. 

Conclusions: Findings demonstrate the feasibility of our methodology for a definitive RCT, and suggest that the CSI shows promise as a scalable approach to strengthening parenting in refugee communities. 

Trial registration # ISRCTN33665023


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Kenneth E. Miller, Gabriela V. Koppenol-Gonzalez, Maguy Arnous, Fadila Tossyeh, Alexandra Chen, Nayla Nahas, Mark J.D. Jordans | 2020
In: Child Abuse & Neglect ; ISSN: 0145-2134 | 106 | 104512 | augustus