Distance-Delivered Parent Training for Childhood Disruptive Behavior (Strongest Families™): a Randomized Controlled Trial and Economic Analysis
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Disruptive behavior disorders are prevalent in youth, yet most children with disruptive behavior do not have access to timely, effective treatment. Distance-delivered service (e.g., via telephone, Internet) can overcome several barriers to care. This study tested the effectiveness of a 12-week parent training program, Strongest Families™ Parenting the Active Child, delivered via written material, skill-based videos, and telephone coaching sessions, as compared to usual care in reducing child externalizing behavior. Participants were 172 primary caregivers of a 6- to 12-year-old (29% girls; M age = 8.5 years) recruited from community children's mental health clinics. Participants were randomized to either Strongest Families™ or usual care and completed measures of child externalizing behavior, parenting practices, parent distress, and intervention services consumed at baseline and 5-, 10-, 16-, and 22-months post-baseline. Growth curve analysis showed significant reductions in externalizing behavior in both conditions over time. Improvements were significantly greater at 10 months in the Strongest Families™ condition (d = 0.43). At 22 months, however, the differences were not significant and small in magnitude (d = -0.05). The intervention decreased inconsistent discipline significantly more than usual care. Parents in both conditions showed significant reductions in distress. We also conducted a cost-effectiveness analysis to assess the value for money of the Strongest Families™ program versus usual care. Distance parent training is a promising way to increase access to, and reduce costs associated with, mental health care for families with a child with disruptive behavior.
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