The impact of a family skills training intervention among Burmese migrant families in Thailand: A randomized controlled trial Journal Articles uri icon

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  • OBJECTIVE: To conduct a randomized controlled trial assessing the impact of a family-based intervention delivered to Burmese migrant families displaced in Thailand on parenting and family functioning. PARTICIPANTS AND PROCEDURES: Participants included 479 Burmese migrant families from 20 communities in Thailand. Families, including 513 caregivers and 479 children aged 7 to 15 years, were randomized to treatment and waitlist control groups. The treatment group received a 12-session family-based intervention delivered to groups of families by lay facilitators. Adapted standardized and locally derived measures were administered before and after the intervention to assess parent-child relationship quality, discipline practices, and family functioning. RESULTS: Compared with controls, intervention families demonstrated improved quality of parent-child interactions on scales of parental warmth and affection (Effect size (ES) = 0.25 caregivers; 0.26 children, both p < 0.05) and negative relationship quality (ES = -0.37, p < 0.001 caregivers; -0.22 children, p < 0.05). Both children and caregivers also reported an effect on relationship quality based on a locally derived measure (ES = 0.40 caregivers, p < .001; 0.43 children, p < .05). Family functioning was improved, including family cohesion (ES = 0.46 caregivers; 0.36 children; both p < 0.001) and decreased negative interactions (ES = -0.30 caregivers, p < 0.01; -0.24 children, p < 0.05). Family communication also improved according to children only (ES = 0.29, p < 0.01). Caregivers, but not children, reported decreased harsh discipline (ES = -0.39, p < 0.001), and no effects were observed on use of positive discipline strategies. Treatment attendance was high, with participants attending a mean of 9.7 out of 12 sessions. CONCLUSION: The intervention increased protective aspects of family well-being for migrant children and caregivers in a middle-income country. The strongest effects were on parent-child relationship quality and family functioning, while results were mixed on changes in discipline practices. Results suggest that a behavioral family-based approach implemented by lay providers in community settings is a promising intervention approach for strengthening families in highly stressed contexts. TRIAL REGISTRATION: NCT01668992.


  • Puffer, Eve S
  • Annan, Jeannie
  • Sim, Amanda
  • Salhi, Carmel
  • Betancourt, Theresa S

publication date

  • 2017