SAN DIEGO -- Dissemination of the Triple P system of parenting interventions produced a clear impact on the prevalence of child maltreatment in South Carolina, results from a population-based study demonstrated.
The study, currently under scientific peer review, marks the first time that a population randomization trial on child maltreatment has been conducted and has yielded preventive effects, Ron Prinz, Ph.D., said at a conference sponsored by Rady Children's Hospital, San Diego.
The Triple P (positive parenting program) system, based on 25 years of research and developed by Dr. Matthew Sanders and his associates at the Parenting and Family Support Center at the University of Queensland, Australia, is a public health model of parenting intervention with a goal of providing the minimally sufficient intervention needed to solve the problem at hand.
"Parenthood preparation is about promoting flexibility, adaptation, and capacity to change," said Dr. Prinz, a psychologist with the University of South Carolina, Columbia. The Triple P system "complements, extends, and adds value to what social and mental health service providers are already doing. It connects staff across agencies without formal mechanisms."
Based on the core principles of positive parenting, Triple P is a coordinated system of evidence-based programs designed to teach optimal parenting skills across developmental periods, from infancy through adolescence (www.triplep-america.com).
To date, efficacy trials include more than 40 randomized clinical trials and 25 service evaluation studies. "We want to help parents learn to become more self-sufficient with respect to their parenting," Dr. Prinz explained. "We want them to build self-efficacy about parenting and their ability to handle challenges that a child may bring."
Delivery formats vary and may include individual and group consultations. Pediatricians and family practice physicians are encouraged to take the training for providing brief individual consultations to parents.
Dr. Prinz said that current social service and mental health systems are organized mainly around the clinical treatment of child maltreatment. They're "focused more on response to child protection cases and less on true prevention prior to the onset of maltreatment," he said. "The field has not fully embraced a population approach to child maltreatment that builds on a public health approach. Literature is beginning to emerge on that but we're not there yet."
In a population-based trial funded by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Dr. Prinz and his associates randomized 18 counties in South Carolina to receive either the Triple P system or services as usual. The researchers then assessed the impact on child maltreatment indicators after 2 years of implementation. Data from 5 years prior to launch of the study were used as a baseline.
Counties were matched based on rates of child abuse, poverty, and population size. None of the counties had prior exposure to Triple P. The target population included 85,000 families with children in the birth-to-7-year-old range who lived in the catchment areas. …