"Thoughtful Parenting" for Mothers and Fathers:
Does Gender Matter?

Principal Investigator: Julie L. Crouch and Joel S. Milner  
Funding Source:  Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (R01)
Dates of Project:  9/07 - 8/10

The overarching goal of this study is to evaluate, in a randomized controlled clinical trial, a theoretically and empirically-based intervention protocol (Thoughtful Parenting: Moment to Moment, TPMM), which was designed to reduce risk for child physical abuse and related problems in parenting.  TPMM is an eight-session, small group intervention, whose key components include using mindfulness based exercises to increase attentional control, as well as meta-cognitive strategies to reduce the influence of risk potentiating cognitions.

Preliminary data from an initial clinical trial suggest that TPMM is effective in reducing child physical abuse risk and depressive symptoms among mothers who are at risk for problems in parenting.  The present study was designed to examine whether gender moderates TPMM’s effectiveness, and includes both mothers and fathers who are at risk for child verbal and physical abuse.  In addition, the present study utilizes a parent education program as a control condition (rather than a “wait list” or treatment-as-usual control condition). Use of the parent education control condition standardizes weekly contact with other parents and facilitators across treatment and control conditions, thus providing a more stringent test of TPMM’s effectiveness. Further, the present study examines the extent to which level of facilitator training moderates TPMM’s effectiveness.

The present study involves a multi-site program evaluation using a randomized controlled design with pre-, post-, and six-month follow-up assessments.  The design includes two intervention conditions (extensively versus nominally trained TPMM facilitators) and a parent education control condition.  Outcome measures consist of self-reports, behavioral assessments (in-home observations), and official child maltreatment reports.

The specific aims of this study are:  1) to determine the extent to which the TPMM intervention produces expected changes in information processing, affect, and behaviors in at-risk parents; and 2) to determine the degree to which gender and level of facilitator training moderate the degree of client change.