Evidence-based parent training (PT) models improve parenting skills and reduce child maltreatment risk, however fathers have been neglected in PT research and services. Their neglect is troubling given that research indicates that fathers who introduce risks to families compromise mothers' parenting and reduce the potency of PT interventions, while positive father involvement can boost PT by both increasing and extending the duration of positive child and family outcomes. The current study is part of the “The Father Engagement Project”. This study was designed to develop and organize a “menu” of strategies to engage fathers in PT and an adaptation to advance future research using a review of the extant literature and interviews with PT experts.
Telephone interviews lasting approximately 60 minutes were conducted with 25 experts in evidence-based PT models using a combined quota and snowball sampling strategy. Participants included approximately even numbers of intervention developers and other PT researchers and service providers. Interview questions included the interviewees' experience with their respective PT models and recommendations as to how they would adapt the models to improve fathers' participation. Two members of the research team (the PI and the Research Assistant) independently coded each of the qualitative interviews. The master codebook and inter-coder reliability was developed using the first 5 interviews, but each of the interviews were double-coded for accuracy. Discrepancies in coding were discussed until consensus was achieved. An exhaustive list of adaptation strategies was developed using both strategies identified in the extant literature and strategies identified in study interviews.
Results indicate that adaptations to PT models to improve fathers' participation fall into three categories: 1) engagement strategies, 2) methods of delivery, and 3) clinical content. Engagement strategies include identifying and testing incentives or father-targeted communication and out reach that could be used to motivate fathers' participation and reduce barriers such as provision of food, child care, and transportation. Methods of delivery relate to the formats through which PT might be manipulated to increase fathers' acceptance and participation. For example, some researchers have been successful in engaging fathers in sports-based PT. Finally, clinical content included the core elements of PT interventions that should be added or dropped to appeal to fathers. Examples include adding content on managing employment-related concerns and mother-father relationship issues. Most adaptation strategies identified related to engagement and methods of delivery. Few changes to the clinical content of the existing PT interventions were proposed.
Conclusions and Implications:
Most adaptation strategies proposed in the literature and by PT experts are aimed at engaging fathers in existing interventions or using novel methods of delivering existing interventions. Few adaptations are suggested to change the actual clinical content of the PT models. Although numerous PT adaptation strategies to increase fathers' participation in evidence-based PT interventions have been proposed in the literature and are recommended by experts in PT models, very little empirical evidence is available to support any of these tools. This study provides a helpful framework that could guide future empirical work in this area.