Program factors influencing parents’ engagement in a friendship-making intervention for youth with disabilities
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PURPOSE: The aim was to examine parents' experiences of engagement in a friendship-making intervention for youth with physical and developmental disabilities. METHOD: This mixed methods study used a convergent parallel design where quantitative and qualitative data were collected concurrently, analyzed independently, and then merged into an overall interpretation. Four parents completed the Pediatric Rehabilitation Intervention Measure of Engagement-Parent version at four points during the 8-week program. They also took part in post-intervention interviews about their engagement-related experiences, including their involvement, interest, and confidence in the parent sessions. RESULTS: Parents' engagement experiences were captured in four themes involving the person-intervention fit: the relevance of program content, the usefulness of the content, their behavioral involvement in planning and group discussions, and seeing youth experience success. The themes corroborated the quantitative measurement of engagement and illustrated and elaborated on how program factors influenced engagement. CONCLUSIONS: This study indicates the value of including a parent component in a youth friendship-making intervention, and points to the importance of considering relevance, usefulness, behavioral involvement, and success in designing these sessions. The four themes reflect important program factors that may be broadly relevant to the design of group-based interventions for parents of youth with disabilities.IMPLICATIONS FOR REHABILITATIONThe findings indicate the value of including a parent component in youth interventions.Parents are engaged when they feel programs are relevant and useful, are behaviorally involved, and see youth experience success-these factors should be considered in optimal program design.It is important to optimize parent engagement by personalizing content, such as by providing choices and options to increase relevance and decrease burden.Transparent communication about program content and the benefits experienced by other parents will help new parents be more fully informed about what to expect.
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