Parent Engagement in Two Versions of A Prevention Program Over Time

Open Access
Bamberger, Katharine Theresa
Graduate Program:
Human Development and Family Studies
Master of Science
Document Type:
Master Thesis
Date of Defense:
March 11, 2013
Committee Members:
  • J Douglas Coatsworth, Ph D, Thesis Advisor
  • Gregory M Fosco, Thesis Advisor
  • participant engagement
  • quality of participation
  • implementation
  • growth curve
  • multi-level model
  • group delivery
Introduction: Previous research on moderators of prevention/intervention program effects has focused on attendance, among other measures. Although attendance is necessary for curriculum uptake, it is not sufficient; beyond attendance, engagement during each program session is important for each participant to achieve outcomes. We examine whether engagement systematically changes over the course of an intervention and examine the role of parent and family characteristics to predict level and change in engagement over the seven sessions of this intervention. Methods: 309 parents provided information on all predictor variables and were randomized to the Strengthening Families Program: For Parents and Youth Ages 10-14 (SFP) and a modified version of the curriculum. Engagement ratings were made by group leaders for each parent at each session he/she attended. Results: We find that engagement in SFP begins high, and changes over time with a linear increase and quadratic leveling-off. Parents experiencing different versions of the SFP curriculum demonstrated different linear increases in engagement. Parents with higher levels of family tension responded to higher-than-usual family tension differently than parents with lower levels of family tension. As indicated by the significant random effects, parents varied in their initial levels of engagement, the relation between family tension and engagement was different across parents, groups of parents who participated together varied in initial levels of engagement, and the linear and quadratic change in engagement differed across groups. Conclusion: Engagement is a dynamic construct that should be rated at each session for each parent in the context of other interventions in order to capture its dynamics. Future work on engagement should recognize that groups of parents may differ in their engagement trajectories, with parents in the same group having more similar trajectories, and individual parents may differ in their trajectories of engagement. Specific to SFP, efforts to maximize each parents’ engagement should focus on reducing family tension during tense sessions for parents whose families experience high levels of tension, and should focus on initial sessions where engagement is lower, on average.