Centre for Adolescent Health

Resilient Families Study

  • Note: This is a past research project that is now complete

    Background

    The Resilient Families research initiative aims to investigate whether increasing family protective factors through early secondary school can improve individual, peer and school adjustment and prevent the development of health and social problems in young people, while also enhancing educational outcomes. The initiative draws on evidence showing that family resiliency characteristics play an important role in buffering the impact of risk factors such as negative life events. Resilient Families adopts a strengths based approach that recognizes the existing strengths of families and adolescents. The Resilient Families intervention was delivered in 2004 and 2005 in 12 metropolitan Melbourne schools and consisted of the following major components:

    1. Student Curriculum: The student curriculum covers communication skills, emotional awareness, conflict resolution, stress reduction, responsibilities in the family, and changes that occur in families. The curriculum component is a 10-week program, delivered to Year 7 students by their classroom teachers. 
    2. Parenting Adolescents Quiz: This component is a 2-hour social evening for parents with Year 7/ Year 8 children. The evening uses a fun quiz format to impart research-based information to help parents promote healthy youth development. 
    3. PACE (Parenting Adolescents: A Creative Experience): PACE is an 8-week parenting program that provides practical information on a range of issues facing young people and their families. Groups provide a safe and positive forum in which the strengths and experiences of parents can be shared and explored. 
    4. Parent Education Book: Helping your child succeed in school and life is a simply written and engaging book that sets out the major issues parents face in raising children through the early secondary school period and the parenting strategies they can use to build family resilience. 
    5. Evaluation (Student and Parent Surveys): In 2004, parents of all Year 7 students were asked to provide consent for their adolescents to participate in a survey involving annual follow ups in 2005 and 2006.  Parents were also asked if they would be interested in completing a survey themselves. Students in twelve comparison schools in metropolitan Melbourne and surrounds also participated in Resilient Families student surveys in 2004, 2005 and 2006.

    The analysis and publication of data collected from the Resilient Families research program is currently proceeding. In a recent publication (Shortt et al, 2007) we reported a numer of outcomes that were associated with exposure to the Resilient Families intervention after one year of follow-up (2005, Year 8, age 13). Relative to students in the control schools, those exposed to the intervention showed a number of advantages including higher family attachment, school rewards and school attendance. An unexpected finding was that the intervention students also showed higher social concern (anxiety).

    Data from the second year of follow-up (2006, Year 9, age 14) is currently being analysed. Parents from this study are being followed-up and re-surveyed by students from Deakin University in 2008.

    Reference

    Shortt, A.L., Hutchinson, D.M., Chapman, R., Toumbourou, J.W. (2007) Family, school, peer and individual influences on early adolescent alcohol use: First year impact of the Resilient Families program. Drug and Alcohol Review, 26(5), 625-634.

    Funder

    National Health and Medical Research Council

    Alcohol Education Foundation

    Contact

    John Toumbourou 

    john.toumbourou@deakin.edu.au