Research has shown that parent-targeted interventions are effective in ameliorating conduct disorders, substance abuse, HIV-risk, and related adolescent problem behaviors. During periods of economic turmoil, however, major obstacles such as affordability impede the effective delivery of support services. Ethnic minorities are especially disadvantaged with respect to risk for child behavioral problems, treatment barriers, and access to culturally sensitive interventions. The meteoric rise of Internet use and recent advance in multimedia technology and software combine to create new opportunities for disseminating evidence-based practices. Parenting Wisely (PW;Gordon, 2000) is a computer-based intervention designed to prevent and treat child disruptive behavior problems. This evidence-based approach fits easily into existing juvenile justice, health, education, and mental health service delivery systems, bypassing many of the current barriers to care. Our Phase I SBIR study focused on revising and enhancing PW with more culturally relevant content and imagery to broaden its appeal to ethnically diverse populations. The findings revealed substantial improvements on virtually all measures of parenting and child behavior and outcomes at 6 months were highly significant and clinically meaningful. This Phase II study is designed to broaden the appeal and potential reach of PW through a formal randomized trial conducted in collaboration with the juvenile justice system (JJS), the primary market for such a program. Parents of 450 delinquent receiving JJS services as usual (SAU) will be randomly assigned to: PW plus a social networking online discussion forum, PW alone, or SAU. PW is the first online skill-building parent training program to examine effectiveness across different ethnic cultural groups and offers a brief, low cost, accessible approach that could be easily and quickly implemented and sustained in JJS settings. As such, the potential impact for marketing PW and reducing child behavior problems is considerable. Phase II activities will include the development of a moderated online forum to increase parental social support and skill acquisition. We will also determine the potential marketability of the PW intervention to JJS programs based on the effects of PW on parent report and direct observation measures of parenting behaviors, adolescent behaviors, and family functioning, as well as measures of recidivism and cost savings. User satisfaction, program comprehension, receptivity, and parent self-efficacy will also be assessed.
In the current context of limited resources, demand for services for youth disruptive behaviors such as drug abuse and delinquency, increasing burdens on state budgets, and significant economic turmoil, there is a clear need for identifying and implementing accessible, low cost, effective interventions that can be transported easily into community settings. The evaluation of the newly revised, culturally diverse Parenting Wisely, a web- based interactive parenting skills training program to reduce adolescent problem behaviors, will establish empirical evidence for a highly accessible intervention that can be widely and quickly disseminated with significant public health benefits and reduced societal cost.