An Online Health Prevention Intervention for Youth with Addicted or Mentally Ill parents: Experiences and Perspectives of Participants and Providers from a Randomized Controlled Trial

M. Woolderink*, J.A.P.M. Bindels, S.M.A.A. Evers, A.T.G. Paulus, A.D. van Asselt, O.C.P. van Schayck

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review


Background: Mental illnesses affect many people around the world, either directly or indirectly. Families of persons suffering from mental illness or addiction suffer too, especially their children. In the Netherlands, 864,000 parents meet the diagnostic criteria for a mental illness or addiction. Evidence shows that offspring of mentally ill or addicted parents are at risk for developing mental disorders or illnesses themselves. The Kopstoring course is an online 8-week group course with supervision by 2 trained psychologists or social workers, aimed to prevent behavioral and psychological problems for children (aged 16 to 25 years) of parents with mental health problems or addictions. The course addresses themes such as roles in the family and mastery skills. An online randomized controlled trial (RCT) was conducted to assess the effectiveness of the Kopstoring course.

Objective: The aim was to gain knowledge about expectations, experiences, and perspectives of participants and providers of the online Kopstoring course.

Methods: A process evaluation was performed to evaluate the online delivery of Kopstoring and the experiences and perspectives of participants and providers of Kopstoring. Interviews were performed with members from both groups. Participants were drawn from a sample from the Kopstoring RCT.

Results: Thirteen participants and 4 providers were interviewed. Five main themes emerged from these interviews: background, the requirements for the intervention, experience with the intervention, technical aspects, and research aspects. Overall, participants and providers found the intervention to be valuable because it was online; therefore, protecting their anonymity was considered a key component. Most barriers existed in the technical sphere. Additional barriers existed with conducting the RCT, namely gathering informed consent and gathering parental consent in the case of minors.

Conclusions: This study provides valuable insight into participants' and providers' experiences and expectations with the online preventive intervention Kopstoring. It also sheds light on the process of the online provision of Kopstoring and the accompanying RCT. The findings of this study may partly explain dropout rates when delivering online interventions. The change in the (financial) structure of the youth mental health care system in the Netherlands has financial implications for the delivery of prevention programs for youth. Lastly, there are few RCTs that assess the effectiveness and cost-effectiveness of online prevention programs in the field of (youth) mental health care and not many process evaluations of these programs exist. This hampers a good comparison between online interventions and the expectations and experiences of the participants and providers.

Original languageEnglish
Article numbere274
Number of pages12
JournalJournal of Medical Internet Research
Issue number12
Publication statusPublished - Dec 2015


  • online-delivered course
  • process assessment
  • qualitative research
  • mental health
  • prevention
  • adolescents


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