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HEALTH / WELL-BEING

Evaluating behavioral health interventions for military-connected youth: A systematic review

November, 2017
Article:

This review looks at behavioral health interventions for military-connected youth and examines the methodological quality and treatment outcomes.

Abstract

Military-connected youth are at increased risk for experiencing distinct psychosocial and behavioral health vulnerabilities. Although behavioral health interventions have been developed to treat vulnerabilities in military-connected youth, little is known about the methodological quality of studies evaluating these interventions. In this study, a systematic review of behavioral health interventions for military-connected youth was conducted to examine methodological quality and treatment outcomes. Electronic databases were systematically searched for studies evaluating behavioral health interventions for military-connected youth which yielded 3,324 citations. Methodological quality was evaluated by 2 researchers with 3 measures that assessed scientific rigor, transparency, external and internal validity, and power for quantitative, qualitative, and mixed-method trials. Interrater reliability was strong (κ = 0.81). Sample characteristics and treatment outcomes were also assessed. Fourteen studies meeting full inclusion criteria evaluated 10 behavioral health interventions. Methodological quality scores for all studies were poor to fair, with limitations in reporting, external and internal validity, and power. Research designs were predominantly nonexperimental. Treatment effects for both psychosocial and behavioral health outcomes were consistently positive for all studies. In studies reporting effect sizes, treatment effects were small to moderate (d = 0.01–0.42, odds ratio = 0.04–0.47, b = −0.02–0.56). Demographic and military characteristics of samples were inconsistently reported. Behavioral health interventions for military-connected youth have noteworthy methodological limitations, indicating a need to employ more rigorous research strategies. Positive treatment outcomes, however, suggest promising interventions for improving psychosocial and behavioral health problems in military-connected youth. Future research directions and implications for clinical-community practice are also discussed.

Full Reference

Moore KD, Fairchild AJ, Wooten NR, Ng ZJ. Evaluating behavioral health interventions for military-connected youth: A systematic review. Military medicine. 2017;182(11-12):e1836-e45.

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