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Closed projects

Pro Kind Saxony

​Pro Kind Saxony: Follow-up assessment of the midterm efficacy of the home visiting program Pro Kind based on a randomized controlled trial

The German home visiting program "Pro Kind" offered support for socially and financially disadvantaged first-time mothers from pregnancy until the children's second birthday. A multi-centered (three German federal states: Bremen, Lower Saxony, and Saxony), longitudinal randomized controlled trial (RCT) was conducted to assess its effectiveness on mothers and children. A total of 755 women with multiple risk factors were recruited, 394 received regular home visits (treatment group), while 361 only had access to standard community services (control group).
Based on the well-established U.S. Nurse-Family Partnership (NFP) program, influences on family environment, maternal competencies, and child development are expected. International studies show a few small short-term effects of comparable home visiting programs, but higher mid- and long-term effects. Hence, the aim of this study was the evaluation of the midterm effectiveness of Pro Kind on the basis of a follow-up assessment at children's ages six to eight.

We expected positive influences on the recruited treatment families, on mother-child relationships, parenting competencies, child development, as well as socioeconomic aspects. Further, savings in the social and health system were assumed. We expected to receive an answer regarding multidisciplinary questions on developmental psychology, health economics, and criminology.

Funding body: Federal Ministry of Education and Research
Research team: Dipl. Psych. Verena Dähne, Dr. phil. Annette Klein
In cooperation with: Criminological Research Institute of Lower Saxony (Dr. Sören Kliem, Prof. Dr. Christian Pfeiffer), Institute for Employment Research (Dr. Malte Sandner), Universität Rostock, Institut für Sonderpädagogische Entwicklungsförderung und Rehabilitation (Prof. Dr. Tanja Jungmann)
Project period: 2014 - 2017

Children of mentally ill parents (CHIMPs)

​Children of mentally ill parents (CHIMPs) - Implementation and evaluation of a family-based intervention programme for children and adolescents of mentally ill parents

Funding body: the Federal Ministry of Education and Research
Research team: Dipl.-Psych. Katja Kolmorgen, Dr. med. Eva Hammerstein, Dr. phil. Annette Klein, Prof. Dr. Kai von Klitzing
Project period: 2014 - 2017

Obese parents - obese children

​Obese parents - obese children. Psychological-psychiatric risk factors of parental behaviour and experience for the development of obesity in children aged 0 - 3

Research Project of the Integrated Research and Treatment Center (IFB) "Adiposity Diseases" in cooperation with the Department of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry, Psychotherapy and Psychosomatics, University of Leipzig

In this project we aimed to describe infants' weight development over time and identify risk and protective factors for the incidence of childhood obesity. Both biological as well as psychological factors occurring prenatally or in the first three years of life of the children constituted the study's focus. Based on developmental and health-psychological models, we considered biological and psychological characteristics at three levels: the child, the parents and parent-child-relationship. At the level of the child focused on physical and mental developmental outcomes and took into account temperament and innate regulatory capacities. At the level of the parents, we investigated possible influences such as child nutrition and attitudes to feeding, parental psychological symptoms (depression), parental stress, and parental behavior and lifestyles. Moreover, we investigated parent-child interactions in two contexts (playing and feeding) hypothesizing that obese parents behave differently from non-obese parents in these interactions. As outcome we assessed the trajectories of the child's weight development, especially the development of overweight and obesity.

Funding body: Federal Ministry of Education and Research
Research team: Dr. Verena Wendt, Dipl.-Psych. Sarah Bergmann, Dipl.-Psych. Anja Keitel-Korndörfer, Dr. Annette Klein, Dr. Matthias Grube, Prof. Dr. Kai von Klitzing
Collaborating Investigators: Prof. Dr. W. Kiess, Dr. S. Blüher, Prof. Dr. E. Brähler
Project period: 2010 - 2015

Children with emotional symptoms and affective disorders

​Brief Psychoanalytic Therapy (BPT) for children with emotional symptoms and affective disorders aged 4 - 8 years - Evaluation of effectiveness, applicability, and indicative factors

Psychotherapeutic treatments for internalizing children in the age-range between 4 - 8 years remain understudied and have thus far not proven effective in clinical populations. Short-term therapy is part of a first-line treatment strategy affording early intervention to a large number of children suffering emotional symptoms (depressive and / or dysphoric mood, social inhibition, proneness to somatisation) and affective disorders (Depression, Hypomania and Mania, Separation Anxiety Disorder, Generalized Anxiety Disorder and Worries). This study was designed in order to systematically examine a manualized Brief Psychoanalytic Therapy (BPT) developed at the clinic (Göttken & von Klitzing, 2009) and tailored expressly to meet the needs of these children. BPT comprises 20 - 25 psychotherapeutic sessions conducted in alternating settings (parent-child together, child and parent, individually). During these sessions, therapist, parent, and child seek to identify and modify the core theme underlying the relationship.

In this study, BPT was implemented in a sample of 30 children with an anxiety disorder offering an opportunity to investigate its effectiveness in an outpatient clinic setting. We assessed outcome with standardized diagnostic interviews and parent and teacher as well as children's reports of internalizing and total problems. While 18 families entered treatment immediately, 12 families were first wait-listed before receiving treatment. We found, that after BPT, 66.7 percent of the children no longer met criteria for any anxiety disorder while no children remitted across the wait-list interval. Internalizing and total problems significantly declined during treatment relative to wait-list. Diagnostic and symptom remission rates were maintained at 6-month follow-up.

Funding body: Heidehof Foundation GmbH
Research team: Dipl. Psych. Tanja Göttken, Lars White, M.Sc., Dipl. Psych. Annette Klein, Ph.D., Prof. Dr. Kai von Klitzing
Project period: 2009 - 2012

The pilot project "Pro Kind"

​Prenatal and infancy home visitation in Germany: The pilot project "Pro Kind"

The pilot project "Pro Kind" is an adaptation of the NFP program focusing on the improvement of neuro-developmental, cognitive, and behavioral functioning of the child by enhancing prenatal health, family functioning and economic self-sufficiency, as well as reducing child abuse and neglect in the first two years of the child's life (Olds, 1997, 1998). The biweekly practical work of the home visitors was structured by visit-to-visit-guidelines and grounded in theories of human ecology (Bronfenbrenner, 1992), self-efficacy (Bandura, 1977), and human attachment (Bowlby, 1969).

"Pro Kind" registered volunteering low-income first-time mothers as soon as possible in their pregnancy. Additional target group criteria included e.g. being under age, poor education, substance abuse, and own experiences of violence or neglect.
In order to evaluate if home visiting in Germany is a means of breaking the link between early adverse circumstances and developmental problems a longitudinal randomized control group design was realized. Women were assigned at random either to the treatment or to the control group. Members of both groups got various supplies (e.g. information about existing health or social services, repayment for travel expenses to preventive medical check-ups, reimbursement for regular research attendance, feedback about the child's developmental status), but only the women of the treatment group received the described home visitation. Data were collected at program intake before randomization (baseline; t0), by the end of pregnancy (app. at 36 weeks of gestation; t1), and at 6 (t2), 12 (t3) and 24 (t4) months of child's age. Face-to-face interviews with detailed standardized questionnaires were conducted at every assessment. Postnatally, data concerning the children's mental and psychomotor development (Bayley Scales of Infant Development-II; Reuner et al., 2007) as well as their language development (SETK-2, Grimm, 2000) are collected by trained interviewers.

Funding body: Federal Ministry for Family Affairs, Senior Citizens, Women and Youth, the Free State of Saxony, the Dürr-Foundation, the Reimann-Dubbers-Foundation and the Tui-Foundation
Research team: Dr. Susan Sierau, Dr. Annette Klein, Prof. Dr. Kai von Klitzing
In cooperation with: the Criminological Research Institute of Lower-Saxony: Prof. Dr .Christian Pfeiffer, Vivien Kurtz, Tilman Brand, the Leibniz University of Hannover: PD Dr. Peter Lutz, Malte Sandner, and the Medical School of Hannover: Prof. Dr H. Günay, Peggy Herrmann, and Prof. Dr. Tanja Jungmann (University of Rostock)
Project period: 2006 (in Saxony from 2008) until 2012

Treatment for families with parental cancer

​Treatment for families with parental cancer: Assessment of a counselling program and identification of criteria informing referral for child-oriented psychodynamic psychotherapy

Children of somatically ill parents are identified as a high-risk population for mental health problems (Barkmann et al., 2007). According to epidemiological studies, parental cancer is the most important context of severe parental illnesses that strongly affect a child's development (Romer & Haagen, 2007). However, there is a lack of psychosocial and psychotherapeutic support for family members exposed to this specific stressor. There is also little empirical research regarding criteria informing choice of treatment type in this specific context.

In keeping with the Hamburg COSIP-Intervention Program ("Children of somatically ill parents") we offered family counselling to families with parental cancer in order to support child mental health, family and parental functioning, quality of life, coping and communication under a high risk condition.
We expected that some of our patients will additionally need to be supported by psychotherapy. We therefore conducted an empirical study focussing on the identification of criteria informing the decision to refer for child-orientated psychodynamic psychotherapy in this specific context. Our study was part of a joint research project funded by Deutsche Krebshilfe e.V. and coordinated by G. Romer, University of Hamburg (now Münster). It was conducted in close collaboration with local medical and psycho-social oncological services and our research partners in Leipzig, Berlin, Magdeburg, Heidelberg and Hamburg.

Objectives of the empirical study: Given the lack of empirical data in the field of psycho-oncological support for families with young children, our current research project aimed at a systematic evaluation by means of questionnaires to assess psychological distress and symptoms of the family members, quality of life, family and parental functioning, coping, communication as well as semi-structured interviews to assess the individual needs of families with parental cancer.

Funding body: Deutsche Krebshilfe e.V.
Research team: Dipl. Psych. Gabriele Koch, Dipl. Psych. Sascha Weis, Dipl. Psych. Stefanie Dieball, Prof. Dr. Kai von Klitzing
Project period: 2009 - 2012

Adolescent parents and their babies

​Adolescent parents and their babies: Quality of interaction, developmental tasks and triadic relationships

This study examined associations between the ability to cope with developmental tasks in adolescence, various aspects of partnership and fatherhood, and the quality of interaction within the family.
In this longitudinal study, the sample was comprised of N=30 adolescent mothers, their partners and babies. Their ability to cope with the developmental tasks of adolescence was evaluated by way of a semi-structured interview which is supplemented by questionnaires. The quality of the family's interaction was assessed on the basis of the Lausanne Trilogue Play situation (LTP), a video-supported observation which aims to identify functional and dysfunctional patterns. Quantitative as well as qualitative methods were used in order to achieve a complex analysis of each situation and to understand implications for potential ways of intervention.

Funding body: Studienstiftung des deutschen Volkes (German National Academic Foundation)
Research team: Dipl. Psych. Eva Lehmann
Project period: 2008 - 2011

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