Strongest Families

​Principal Investigator in Finland

Andre Sourander 


The goal of the Strongest Families Finland Canada (SFFC) Smart Website intervention research program washas been to develop and evaluate an affordable, accessible, effective secondary prevention parent training program for disruptive behaviour in preschoolers to prevent the negative sequelae of ODD. The Strongest Families program is family-oriented and focuses on empowering parents to help their children.

There has been little emphasis on the development of cost-effective primary care focused mental health delivery systems. This project pioneers in applying existing evidence-based interventions to be offered through modern web-based application with professional coaching.

Current topics

Oppositional Defiant Disorder (ODD) is characterized by angry and noncompliant behaviour. It is the most common disruptive behaviour disorder (DBD), with prevalence estimates of 6-9% for preschoolers and is closely linked to several long-term difficulties, including disorders of conduct, mood, anxiety, impulse-control, and substance abuse. ODD in children is related to parental depression, family dysfunction, and impairments in parental work performance. Children displaying early DBDs exhibit more symptoms of greater severity, more frequent offences, and commit more serious crimes later in life.

The Strongest Families Smart Website intervention is hypothesized to improve parenting skills, reduce child disruptive behaviour, reduce parental distress and improve family functioning. These results will likely inform subsequent investigations, public policy, and early treatment of childhood disruptive behaviour problems.

Future SFFC projects include intervention programs using RCT design for several
developmental problems among children: anxiety and phobias, pain symptoms, PTSD and enuresis. Incorporating this approach as part of usual care services would decrease pediatric mental health waitlists which in turn would improve access to professional services for severe complex cases.


Marjo Kurki, Terja Ristkari, Terhi Luntamo, Tarja Korpilahti-Leino, Susanna Hinkka-Yli-Salomäki, Auli Suominen, Lotta Lempinen, Kaisa Mishina, Malin Kinnunen, Jenni Vuorio, Marja Guillaume, Katja Pöllänen, Anna Zadkova, Elina Boström, Saana Sourander, Milka-Maija Lehtola, Susanna Hurme, Atte Sinokki, Jarna Lindroos


McGrath PJ, Sourander A, Lingley-Pottie P, Ristkari T, Cunningham C, Huttunen J, Filbert K, Aromaa M, Corkum P, Hinkka-Yli-Salomäki S, Kinnunen M, Lampi K, Penttinen A, Sinokki A, Unruh A, Vuorio J, Watters C. Remote population-based intervention for disruptive behavior at age four: study protocol for a randomized trial of Internet-assisted parent training (Strongest Families Finland-Canada). BMC Public Health 2013;13:985.

Sourander A, McGrath PJ, Ristkari T, Cunningham C, Huttunen J, Lingley-Pottie P, Hinkka-Yli-Salomäki S, Kinnunen M, Vuorio J, Sinokki A, Fossum S, Unruh A. Internet-Assisted Parent Training Intervention for Disruptive Behavior in 4-Year-Old Children: A Randomized Clinical Trial. JAMA Psychiatry. 2016 Apr;73(4):378-87.

Fossum S, Ristkari T, Cunningham C, McGrath P, Suominen A, Huttunen J, Lingley-Pottie P, Sourander A. Parental and child factors associated with participation in a RCT of internet-assisted parent training program. Child and Adolescent Mental Health 2016 [Epub ahead of print] doi:10.1111/camh.12193