Academic journal article Advances in Mental Health

Parenting Program Uptake: Impacts of Implementation Factors on Intention to Enrol

Academic journal article Advances in Mental Health

Parenting Program Uptake: Impacts of Implementation Factors on Intention to Enrol

Article excerpt

The high prevalence and durability of mental health problems amongst Australian children and adolescents has been amply established (Sawyer et al., 2001; Verhulst & Koot, 1995). Substantial evidence suggests parenting programs are successful in reducing key risk factors associated with the development of child mental health problems (Sanders, Markie-Dadds, Tully, & Bor, 2000). Indeed, in recognition of these benefi ts, federal funding has recently supported the state-wide dissemination of parenting programs (Graetz, Littlefi eld, Trinder, & Dobia, 2008). Unfortunately, the successful translation of parenting programs into wide-scale practice is threatened by insuffi cient uptake, fragmented partcipation, and low retention(Avis, Bulmann, & Leighton, 2007; Dumas, Nissley-Tsiopinis, & Moreland, 2007). In particular, investigating the factors that infl uence uptake of parenting programs could inform the development of maximally effi cient recruitment strategies. As a result, the potential success of a population level approach to improve child and adolescent mental health outcomes could be enhanced.

Of growing concern is the prevalence of mental health problems amongst Australian children. Recent reports suggest around 28% of children exhibit signs of emotional or behavioural problems (Sanders et al., 2000), and 14% are reported to be suffering a mental disorder of clinical severity (Sawyer et al., 2001). Longitudinal studies have linked mental health problems manifesting during childhood with social, emotional and psychological dysfunction in later life (Wadsworth & Kuh, 1997; Webster-Stratton, 1998). Indeed, a link between such problems and a decreased ability to contribute socially or economically to society has been postulated (Scott, 1998). In terms of the latter, the annual cost of mental illness in Australia has been estimated at $20 billion (Australian Bureau of Statistics, 2008). Finally, and perhaps of particular concern, are indications that the prevalence of mental health problems is escalating (Shelton & Harold, 2008).

Of the many, interacting variables associated with the development and persistence of childhood mental health problems, one of the most highly predictive is problematic parenting (Mulvaney & Mebert, 2007; Thomas & Zimmer-Gembeck, 2007). Increased awareness of the role of parenting behaviours on child mental health outcomes has helped generate professional and scientifi c interest in interventions aimed at improving parenting (Spencer, 2003). One group of interventions - parenting programs - have been subjected to intense empirical enquiry. Although varied in nature and approach, commercially available, empirically tested parenting programs tend to be based on behavioural approaches derived from social learning and developmental theories (Sanders et al., 2000; Thomas & Zimmer-Gembeck, 2007). Those types of parenting programs teach behavioural approaches aimed at reducing negative parenting practices, and increasing those considered more positive or functional (Sanders et al., 2000; Spencer, 2003; Thomas & Zimmer-Gembeck, 2007).

Numerous effi cacy trials of many specifi c parenting programs have demonstrated encouraging results across different settings, delivery modalities (i.e., self-directed, group based) and clinical populations, as both a treatment (Bailey, van der Zwan, Phelan, & Brooks, 2009; Sanders et al., 2000), and as a preventative approach (Spoth, Randall, & Shin, 2008). Sanders et al. have conducted a large number of effi cacy trials on the triple P parenting program with promising outcomes (Sanders, 2000, 2003; Sanders et al., 2000). General results indicate reductions in dysfunctional parenting practices and negative child behaviour across various delivery modalities (Sanders, 2000).

Other studies report positive outcomes of parenting programs for children with disruptive disorder (Thomas & Zimmer-Gembeck, 2007), and conduct disorder (Webster-Stratton, 1998). …

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