The role of parental attributions in predicting parenting intervention outcomes in the treatment of child conduct problems

Vilas Sawrikar, David J. Hawes, Caroline Moul, Mark R. Dadds

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract

Background: Parent attributions about the causes of their children's behaviour problems are a known predictor of problematic parenting and ongoing child problems. However, their importance in parenting interventions remains unknown as research has not addressed whether parental attributions predict outcomes associated with parenting training. The current study examined whether problematic pre-treatment and change resistant parental attributions during treatment uniquely predict child behaviour outcomes.

Method: Participants were 250 families with children aged from 3 to 16 referred to specialist clinics for the treatment of conduct problems. Measures of family demographic information, parental attributions, and severity of child conduct problems were collected as part of pre-treatment, post-treatment, and 3-month follow-up assessments.

Results: Linear regression showed that mothers' pre-treatment parental attributions uniquely predicted severity of conduct problems at the post-treatment and 3-month follow-up assessments. Fathers' pre-treatment parental attributions uniquely predicted severity of conduct problems at the 3-month follow-up assessment. Reductions in problematic pre-treatment parental attributions were recorded at post-treatment for both parents. However, smaller reductions or increases in mothers’ problematic attributions uniquely predicted worse child behaviour outcomes, a result not replicated for fathers.

Conclusions: Findings that pre-treatment and change resistant parental attributions predict poorer child behaviour outcomes after controlling for other predictors and treatment effects recommend that parental attributions should be assessed prior to and after treatment and possibly included in treatment to maximise treatment gains for children with conduct problems.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)64-71
Number of pages8
JournalBehaviour Research and Therapy
Volume111
Early online date6 Oct 2018
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 31 Dec 2018

Keywords

  • parent training
  • parental attributions
  • parenting
  • conduct problems
  • oppositional defiant disorder
  • conduct disorder
  • parenting interventions
  • parental cognitions

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