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Year : 2020  |  Volume : 18  |  Issue : 2  |  Page : 119-128

A Randomised Controlled Trial of the I-Deal Life Skills Intervention with Syrian Refugee Adolescents in Northern Lebanon

1 War Child Holland, The Netherlands
2 War Child Holland, Lebanon
3 Amsterdam Institute of Social Science Research, University of Amsterdam and War Child Holland, The Netherlands

Correspondence Address:
Kenneth E Miller
Senior Researcher, Research and Development, War Child Holland, Helmholtzstraat 61G, 1098LE
The Netherlands
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Source of Support: None, Conflict of Interest: None

DOI: 10.4103/INTV.INTV_4_20

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Armed conflict and displacement pose threats to children’s mental health and psychosocial wellbeing. We report on the findings of an evaluation of I-Deal, a life skills intervention aimed at fostering resilience among early adolescent refugees. We used a parallel group randomised controlled trial to compare I-Deal to a structured recreational activity group (SRA). 325 adolescents in Akkar, Lebanon, 74% of them Syrian, were randomised to I-Deal or SRA. The primary outcome was psychosocial wellbeing; secondary outcomes included psychological distress, prosocial behaviour, hope, self-esteem and social connectedness. Assessments were conducted at baseline, endline and 3-month follow-up. Due to low reliabilities, only wellbeing, distress and hope were included in the analyses. These outcomes showed similar results: no statistically significant changes over time, no significant differences between groups and no significant interaction between group and time. Our findings do not support the effectiveness of I-Deal. Several factors are considered that may help explain the lack of effect, including the aspects of the intervention design, possible measurement error suggested by low reliabilities on several instruments and a ceiling effect on our primary outcome. A replication using rigorously piloted instruments, the selection of outcomes more specifically tailored to the intervention and a nonactive control condition could help provide definitive evidence regarding the effectiveness of the I-Deal intervention. Key implications for practice
  • This study contributes to the growing literature on the effectiveness of life skills interventions for refugee adolescents.
  • The lack of any intervention effects in this study raises important questions about the appropriate focus and role of preventive and promotive interventions with refugee adolescents.
  • Methodological issues in the study underscore the vital importance of using validated and well piloted measures of appropriately selected intervention outcomes.

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