Bringing Swedish Lessons to Australia: Presenting at the 16th Annual Helping Families Change Conference

I recently had the opportunity to present some of my research findings at the 16th Annual Helping Families Change Conference (HFCC) in Sydney, Australia. In order to see a list of all the presentations, along with most of their respective powerpoints, click on this HFCC link or click here to read presenters’ abstracts.

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The symposium I was in was called Parenting in a Cross-Cultural Context, and I was able to present next to Dr Rachel Calam from the University of Manchester and PhD Candidate Konstantinos Foskolos (his ResearchGate link) from Oxford University. Another researcher, Dr Susan Stern from the University of Toronto was supposed to present her findings, but unfortunately she fell ill right before the conference.

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Dr. Calam was presenting on behalf of one of her students who couldn’t make it to the conference. They had completed an RCT in central America, showing that parents (mothers) who received Triple P could benefit from the program.

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Konstantinos Foskolos presented his findings from his RCT on Cypriot parents (mothers) receiving Triple P, although some of the findings were not significant.

Below is his powerpoint presentation (click on it to open the full powerpoint):

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I, Michael Wells, along with Dr Raziye Salari presented findings on which background factors mothers and fathers have when comparing those who do and do not participate in a universally-offered, practitioner-led parent support program (Triple P).

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As it turns out from our Swedish sample, mothers possessed 5 characteristics that made them more likely to participate: 1) if they were born in Sweden, 2) had a college degree, 3) were overreactive with their parenting, 4) had a boy, and 5) if they perceived their child as having behavior problems.

Fathers were more likely to participate if they perceived themselves as stressed and if they perceived emotional problems in their children.

Clearly mothers and fathers participated for different reasons. Therefore, when marketing a parent support program or when giving the intervention, practitioners should be aware of the parents’ different needs, especially if trying to recruit and retain fathers.

In other words, just talking about behavior problems in children will not get fathers in the door nor keep them attending sessions–as they are not concerned with this problem, mothers are. Fathers would like more information on how to manage children’s emotional problems.

Additionally, we found that the more background factors a parent had, the more likely they were to attend. Therefore, if mothers were only struggling with behavior problems, but did not have a college degree, were from another country, had a girl, and didn’t overreact when managing their child’s behaviors, then they weren’t likely to attend, even though they could still benefit from the program.

Therefore universally-offered programs may be reaching the parents most in need, but that doesn’t mean they’re reaching all of the parents in need.

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In another symposium entitled Implementation Issues: Current and Future Issues of Significance, my co-researcher, Dr Raziye Salari, gave a presentation. 

Dr Raziye Salari also gave a presentation on marketing parenting programs to families through online advertisements. One picture had a preventative message, while the other showed a promotion ad. The prevention picture is highlighted by a child giving “the finger” while the promotion ad is highlighted by a child giving the peace sign–with the idea being that you either don’t want this to happen to your child or come get the skills so that life can go well.

Dr Salari and her co-researcher, Anna Backman, concluded that while the prevention ad receives more clicks, neither program is more likely to have parents actually sign-up for the parent support program; These findings are contrary to the theoretical work that these researchers found, where parents stated that they would be more likely to join if they saw the promotion ad.

However, both ads may attract different parents, and therefore both types of ads should be used when trying to promote a parent support program to parents.

Click here to read about the conference as a whole.

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