van Leuven L, Lalouni M, Forster M
J Child Fam Stud - (-) 1-14 [2022-08-08; online 2022-08-08]
While rates of child maltreatment increased during the Covid-19-pandemic, face-to-face interventions to support families got difficult to carry out due to restrictions. Meanwhile, many services do not have access to parenting programs designed for digital or remote delivery. A solution employed by some services was to use video conferencing (VC) to deliver their regular parenting programs. This study examined the effectiveness of the universal group-based parenting program ABC offered through VC instead of on-site meetings during the pandemic. Pre and post measurements were collected from 469 parents participating in either 1) ABC with VC meetings only, 2) on-site meetings only, or 3) blended - a combination of VC and on-site sessions. In addition, 74 group leaders completed a survey about their experiences of VC groups. Analyses showed general improvements in parent practices and child conduct over time, but no differences in effectiveness depending on the format of the parent group (VC, blended, or on-site). Qualitative analyses of group leaders' experiences revealed four key-themes pertaining to both challenges (e.g., concerns about parents' ability to benefit and learn parenting skills) and benefits (e.g., reaching parents who would not have been able to attend physical meetings) of VC groups. Overall, this study showed no significant differences in outcomes between the VC, blended, or on-site format of delivery. There are however limitations of this trial, and results should be considered preliminary. Effectiveness and potential negative consequences of replacing interventions intended to be delivered on-site with VC alternatives need to be further investigated in future trials.