Objective The aim of the study was to evaluate the implementation and effectiveness of a therapeutic parenting program that targets parents of children aged 6 to 11 years identified as having behavioral and emotional difficulties. The intervention comprises two parts, delivered sequentially: a 10–12-week group-based program for all parents, and one-to-one sessions for up to 12 weeks with selected parents from the group-based element. Methods/Design In a randomized controlled trial, 264 participants were allocated to the Inspiring Futures program (intervention) or services as usual (control) arms with follow-up assessments at 16 (post-group program) and 32 (post-one-to-one sessions) weeks. The primary outcome was the parent-rated Strengths and Difficulties Questionnaire (SDQ) Total Difficulties score at 32 weeks. Secondary outcomes included parent-rated SDQ subscales, parent coping strategies, empathy in parenting and parenting skills. Results All 264 participants were included in outcome analyses. There was no statistically significant effect on SDQ Total Difficulties (standardized mean difference: −0.07; 95% CI: −0.30 to 0.16; p = 0.54). There were no sub-group effects. Only 1 of 40 comparisons between the trial arms for secondary outcomes across both follow-ups was statistically significant at the 5% level. The mean number of group sessions attended by intervention arm participants was 6.1 (out of 10 to 12) and only 1 in 20 intervention arm participants received one-to-one support. Independent observation indicated scope to improve fidelity in terms of adherence, quality and participant responsiveness. Conclusions The intervention is not more effective than services as usual at improving targeted outcomes. This may be related, in part, to implementation issues but arguably more to the inability of a non-behavioral intervention to improve caregiving adequately, particularly when it is not targeted at new parents who have experienced trauma or deprivation early in life or subsequently.



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Children and Youth Services Review





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Peninsula Medical School