Trials 2016 Nov 417(1) 532
Rates of mental health disorders are significantly greater in children with physical illnesses than in physically well children. Children with neurological conditions, such as epilepsy, are known to have particularly high rates of mental health disorders. Despite this, mental health problems in children with neurological conditions have remained under-recognised and under-treated in clinical settings. Evidence-based guided self-help interventions are efficacious in reducing symptoms of mental health disorders in children, but their efficacy in reducing symptoms of common mental health disorders in children with neurological conditions has not been investigated. We aim to pilot a guided self-help intervention for the treatment of mental health disorders in children with neurological conditions.
A pilot randomised controlled trial with 18 patients with neurological conditions and mental health disorders will be conducted. Participants attending specialist neurology clinics at a National UK Children’s Hospital will be randomised to receive guided self-help for common mental health disorders or to a 12-week waiting list control. Participants in the treatment group will receive 10 sessions of guided self-help delivered over the telephone. The waiting list control group will receive the intervention after a waiting period of 12 weeks. The primary outcome measure is reduction in symptoms of mental health disorders. Exclusion criteria are limited to those at significant risk of harm to self or others, the presence of primary mental health disorder other than anxiety, depression or disruptive behaviour (e.g. psychosis, eating disorder, obsessive-compulsive disorder) or intellectual disability at a level meaning potential participants would be unable to access the intervention. The study has ethical approval from the Camden and Islington NHS Research Ethics Committee, registration number 14.LO.1353. Results will be disseminated to patients, the wider public, clinicians and researchers through publication in journals and presentation at conferences.
This is the first study to investigate guided self-help interventions for mental health problems in children with neurological conditions, a group which is currently under-represented in mental health research. The intervention is modular and adapted from an empirically supported cognitive behavioural treatment. The generalisability and broad inclusion criteria are strengths but may also lead to some weaknesses.
Current Controlled Trials: ISRCTN21184717 . Registered on 25 September 2015.