What affects attendance and engagement in a parenting program in South Africa?

Y. Shenderovich, M. Eisner, L. Cluver, J. Doubt, M.K. Berezin, S. Majokweni, A.L. Murray

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract / Description of output

Parenting programs are a promising approach to improving family well-being. For families to benefit, programs need to be able to engage families actively in the interventions. Studies in high-income countries show varying results regarding whether more disadvantaged families are equally engaged in parenting interventions. In low- and middle-income countries (LMICs), almost nothing is known about the patterns of participation in parent training. This paper examines group session attendance and engagement data from 270 high-risk families enrolled in the intervention arm of a cluster-randomized controlled trial in South Africa. The trial evaluated a 14-week parenting intervention aiming to improve parenting and reduce maltreatment by caregivers. The intervention was delivered in 20 groups, one per study cluster, with 8 to 16 families each. Overall, caregivers attended 50% of group sessions and children, 64%. Using linear multilevel models with Kenward-Roger correction, we examined child and caregiver baseline characteristics as predictors of their attendance and engagement in the group sessions. Variables examined as predictors included measures of economic, educational, and social and health barriers and resources, as well as family problems and sociodemographic characteristics. Overall, the study yielded no evidence that the level of stressors, such as poverty, was related to attendance and engagement. Notably, children from overcrowded households attended on average 1.2 more sessions than their peers. Our findings suggest it is possible to engage highly disadvantaged families that face multiple challenges in parenting interventions in LMICs. However, some barriers such as scheduling, and alcohol and substance use, remain relevant.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)977–986
JournalPrevention Science
Issue number7
Early online date18 Aug 2018
Publication statusPublished - Oct 2018

Keywords / Materials (for Non-textual outputs)

  • adolescents
  • child maltreatment
  • parenting
  • South Africa


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