Open Access Study protocol

Design of a Web-based individual coping and alcohol-intervention program (web-ICAIP) for children of parents with alcohol problems: study protocol for a randomized controlled trial

Tobias H Elgán1*, Helena Hansson2, Ulla Zetterlind2, Nicklas Kartengren23 and Håkan Leifman13

Author Affiliations

1 STAD, Stockholm Centre for Psychiatric Research and Education, Department of Clinical Neuroscience, Stockholm County Council Health Care Provision and Karolinska Institutet, Box 6031, SE-102 31 Stockholm, Sweden

2 Clinical Health Promotion Centre, Department of Health Sciences, Lund University and Skåne University Hospital MAS, SE-205 02 Malmö, Sweden

3 The Swedish Council for Information on Alcohol and Other Drugs (CAN), Box 704 12, SE-107 25 Stockholm, Sweden

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BMC Public Health 2012, 12:35  doi:10.1186/1471-2458-12-35

Published: 16 January 2012



It has been estimated that approximately 20% of all Swedish children grow up with parents having alcohol problems, which may result in negative outcomes among these children. Therefore, most Swedish municipalities provide resources for support, but at the same time figures reveal that not even 2% receive support, mainly due to difficulties in identifying and recruiting these children into support programs. Delivering intervention programs to children and adolescents via the Internet seems a promising strategy, but to date, the number of web-based interventions aimed at this target group is very scarce. We have therefore developed a novel internet-delivered therapist assisted self-management intervention called the web-ICAIP (Individual Coping and Alcohol Intervention Program) for adolescents having parents with alcohol problems. The purpose of the program is to strengthen adolescents' coping behavior, improve their mental health, and postponing the onset or decreasing risky alcohol consumption. This paper describes the web-ICAIP and the design of a randomized controlled trial (RCT) to measure the efficacy of this intervention.


The RCT will include at least 183 adolescents (15-19 year old) who will be randomly allocated to two conditions where one group has access to the web-ICAIP and the other is a waiting list control group. Participants will be recruited from websites containing information and facts for adolescents about alcohol and other drugs. Possible participants will be screened using the short version of the Children of Alcoholics Screening Test (CAST-6). The assessment consists of a baseline and two follow-up measurements taking place after two and six months, respectively. The primary outcomes include the Center for Epidemiological Studies Depression Scale (CES-DC), a coping behavior scale, and also the short version of the Alcohol Use Disorders Identification Test (AUDIT-C). Additional outcomes include the "Ladder of life" which measures overall life satisfaction and questions concerning program adherence.


There is an urgent need for developing and evaluating web-based intervention programs which target children having parents with alcohol problems. This study will therefore make an important contribution to this novel field of research.

Trial registration


Children of alcoholics; CoA; Children of alcoholics screening test; CAST; Children of substance abusing parents; Individual Coping and Alcohol Intervention Program; ICAIP; Internet-delivered intervention; RCT; Web-based intervention