Dialectical Behavior Therapy Skills Training with At-risk, Overweight Adolescents: A Feasibility and Pilot Trial
Hayden, Brittany Marie
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It is not uncommon for adolescent overweight status and mental health problems to co-occur. Therefore, the current pilot study investigated the feasibility and effectiveness of a secondary prevention program utilizing school-based dialectical behavior skills therapy (sbDBT) for at-risk, overweight students. The pilot trial was conducted in a local school district with two cohorts of referred adolescents. Relationships between overweight status and stress, depression, and coping skills were assessed among overweight adolescents, as well as outcomes regarding improved coping strategies. Pre-intervention analyses indicated no statistically significant relationship between weight status and psychosocial assessments. Further, there were no statistically significant improvements in coping skills after treatment implementation. Results also did not reveal a statistically significant decrease in body mass index (BMI) z - scores post intervention. Regarding feasibility, the difficulties faced during intervention implementation are also discussed. Regardless of the lack of statistically significant findings, interviews with the participants and school mental health professionals indicated high levels of acceptance and clinical utility. Given the mental and physical health risk factors associated with overweight, it is essential to determine whether a school-based mental health promotion program can effectively address these health concerns. This exploratory pilot trial may inform further research and serve as a catalyst to developing school-based initiatives that are both feasible and effective.