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The Capital Region of Denmark - a part of Copenhagen University Hospital

The Back2School modular cognitive behavioral intervention for youths with problematic school absenteeism: study protocol for a randomized controlled trial

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  • Mikael Thastum
  • Daniel Bach Johnsen
  • Wendy K Silverman
  • Pia Jeppesen
  • David A Heyne
  • Johanne Jeppesen Lomholt
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BACKGROUND: School absenteeism (SA) is associated with anxiety, depression, and disruptive behavior. It is a risk factor for academic difficulties and school dropout, which predict problems in adulthood such as social, work-related, and health problems. The main goal of this study is to examine the initial effectiveness of a modular transdiagnostic cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) intervention (Back2School) for increasing school attendance and decreasing psychological problems, relative to a comparator control arm (treatment as usual [TAU]).

METHODS/DESIGN: One hundred sixty children, aged 7 to 16 years, will be randomly assigned to either Back2School or TAU. The design is a two (Back2School and TAU) by four (preassessment [T1], postassessment [T2], and 3-month [T3] and 1-year [T4] assessments) mixed between-within design. The primary outcome is school attendance based on daily registration. Secondary outcomes pertain to youth psychosocial functioning, quality of life, bullying, self-efficacy, and teacher-parent collaboration. These secondary outcomes are measured via youth, parent, and teacher reports.

DISCUSSION: This study will provide critically needed empirical evidence on the initial effectiveness of a manualized treatment program for youth with SA. If the intervention is found to be effective, the program can be further implemented and tested in a larger school health effectiveness trial.

TRIAL REGISTRATION:, NCT03459677 . Retrospectively registered on 9 March 2018.

Original languageEnglish
Article number29
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 8 Jan 2019

    Research areas

  • Absenteeism, Adolescent, Child, Child Behavior Disorders/therapy, Cognitive Behavioral Therapy/methods, Humans, Outcome Assessment (Health Care), Quality of Life, Randomized Controlled Trials as Topic, Research Design

ID: 57443738