Prevention of child mental health problems through parenting interventions in Southeastern Europe (RISE): study protocol for a multi-site randomised controlled trial

Background Childhood adversities, such as poor parental practices, exposure to violence, and risk behaviours strongly impact children’s future mental and behavioural problems. Adversities affect families living in disadvantaged environments and low- and middle-income countries (LMICs) to a greater extent than in high-income countries. Parenting programmes are an effective way to alleviate them, although their outreach and scalability is still limited in LMICs. Methods/design A multi-site randomised controlled trial will be conducted in North Macedonia, Republic of Moldova and Romania to test the efficacy and cost-effectiveness of an optimised version of the promising Parenting for Lifelong Health Programme for Young Children (PLH-YC, 5 sessions), against a standard lecture on parenting issues (control group, 1 session). At least 864 participants who report having children between 2 and 9 years old who display elevated levels of behavioural difficulties will be randomised on a 1:1 basis to the intervention and control groups. The primary outcome will consist of parent report of child oppositional aggressive behaviour. Post-test (four months) and follow-up (12 months) assessments will provide information on short- and longer-term effects of PLH-YC compared to the parenting lecture in the control group. Discussion This randomised trial will test the efficacy of PLH-YC in alleviating child behavioural problems and assess the cost-effectiveness, transportability across three different cultural contexts, and potential for scalability of the programme. Trial registration ., Registration number: NCT04721730 ( ). Registered 13.01.2021