Digital parent training for child’s disruptive behaviour can work wonders: Study

Washington: Digital parent training for child’s disruptive behavior has proven to be successful in primary health care, says a recent study.

As a part of the study, the researchers compared families that participated in parent training during the randomized controlled trial with families that participated in the programme during the implementation study.

The families were identified as part of the risk group during their fourth-year visit to a child health clinic. Finnish child health clinics provide regular check-ups that offer universal health care and are attended by 99.6 per cent of the children.

During the study, the parents were offered research-based support for parenting by teaching daily parenting and problem-solving skills. The training took place on the internet and by telephone.

“Throughout the study, the parents’ satisfaction with the programme and working with their coaches remained excellent as did their experience of the development of their parenting skills,” said Terja Ristkari, lead author of the study, which was published in the Journal of Medical Internet Research.

Parents in both groups completed the programme in approximately the same amount of time. The families spent around 1.5 hours each week studying the programme online and on the phone with their coach.

A significant change was that the discontinuation rate of the parent training intervention decreased by nearly a half in the implementation group when compared with the controlled trial group.

Only 12.4 per cent of the participants discontinued the 11-week programme when it was used as a service in the implementation study.

“The discontinuation rate was substantially lower than in traditional parent training interventions which are usually carried out in groups,” said Ristkari.

Moving interventions outside traditional clinics and into people’s daily environments, like the Internet, can facilitate better access to mental health services.

Web-based interventions can also remove the barriers associated with face-to-face interventions and enable people to seek help for mental health problems without the fear of being stigmatized.

From the families’ point of view, digitally delivered programmes can offer faster and more flexible services without the need for transport, juggling work schedules, arranging childcare, or the practical cost of accessing services.

As disruptive behaviour was more severe in the implementation group, the findings may also suggest that the parents of the children with more severe disruptive behavior are highly motivated to receive help and complete the programme.