A tailored Web-based parenting program may lessen parenting behaviors that influence short-term risk for anxiety and depression in adolescents, according to a randomized controlled trial published in the Journal of Medical Internet Research. This program provides interactive modules designed to motivate parental changes.
A total of 359 parent-adolescent dyads from Australia were included in this study. Parents followed the individualized Partners in Parenting program, which includes interventions associated with the Persuasive Systems Design principles that aim to motivate changes in parenting behaviors that may affect their child’s risk for anxiety and depression. The program features a report on parents’ strengths and areas for improvement as well as interactive modules that are created based on the parents’ individual areas for needed improvement.
Parent-reported changes in parenting risk and protective factors, as assessed with the Parenting to Reduce Adolescent Depression and Anxiety Scale (PRADAS), were the study’s primary outcome. Adolescent-reported PRADAS; the parent- and child-report Short Mood and Feelings Questionnaire, evaluating depressive symptoms; and the parent- and child-report Spence Children’s Anxiety Scale, assessing anxiety symptoms, were the trial’s secondary outcomes.
A total of 179 dyads were randomly assigned to follow the Partners in Parenting program (intervention group) and 180 dyads were assigned to a control condition. On average, 73.7% of participants in the intervention group completed the program, and 318 parents and 308 adolescents completed the postintervention assessment. The increase in PRADAS score from baseline to the 3-month follow-up was greater in the intervention group (46.40 to 51.21, respectively) compared with the control group (47.40 to 49.38, respectively; P <.001). Secondary outcomes were comparable between the 2 groups, and both groups showed noticeable decreases in parent-reported and parent- and adolescent-reported depressive and anxiety symptoms from baseline to postintervention.
This study included a parent cohort of mostly mothers who were highly educated and were from intact families, which limits the generalizability of the findings. In addition, the analysis was focused on 1 parent and did not assess the impact of the intervention with both parents involved.
“[The Partners in Parenting program] may be useful as a low-cost, scalable, and sustainable public health universal prevention program to empower parents in their parenting of adolescents,” concluded the study authors.
Yap MBH, Mahtani S, Rapee RM, et al. A tailored Web-based intervention to improve parenting risk and protective factors for adolescent depression and anxiety problems: postintervention findings from a randomized controlled trial. J Med Internet Res. 2018;20(1):e17.