Children of divorce coping with divorce (CoD-CoD): evaluating the efficacy of an internet-based preventative intervention for children of divorce
An ever expanding body of research has shown that children of divorce are at increased risk for a range of maladaptive outcomes including academic failure, behavior problems, poor psychological adjustment, reduced self-concept, and reduced social competence (Amato, 2001). Furthermore, the widespread prevalence of divorce makes preventing these poor outcomes a pressing public health concern. The Children of Divorce-Coping with Divorce (CoD-CoD) program is an internet-based selective prevention that was derived from recent research identifying modifiable protective factors in children of divorce including active and avoidant coping, divorce appraisals, and coping efficacy. CoD-CoD addresses these putative mediators through careful adaptation of intervention components previously demonstrated to be effective for children from disrupted families (Pedro-Carroll & Alpert-Gillis, 1997; Stolberg & Mahler, 1994; Sandler, et al., 2003). In the CoD-CoD efficacy trial, 147 children ages 11-16 whose family had received a divorce decree within 48 months of the intervention start date served as participants. Participants were assessed in two waves in order to test the small theory of the intervention as well as the interventions effects on internalizing and externalizing behaviors. Analyses indicated that the program effectively reduced the participants total mental health problems and emotional problems as reported on the Strengths and Difficulties Questionnaire (SDQ) (d = .37) and for total mental health problems this effect was stronger for children with greater baseline mental health problems (d = .46). The program also had mediated effects on both child and parent-reported total mental health problems whereby the program improved coping efficacy for children with low baseline coping efficacy which led to reduced parent-reported mental health problems. To the author's knowledge this is the first randomized controlled trail of internet-based mental health program for children or adolescents which utilizes an active control condition.