Category Archives: Helping Families Change Conference (HFCC)

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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16th Annual Helping Families Change Conference 2014: Sydney, Australia

The 16th Annual Helping Families Change Conference (HFCC) was held on February 19th – 21st, 2014 in Sydney, Australia.

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After receiving a travel grant from FORTE, I was on my way to the land down under. I attended the actual conference (2 days), while sadly, missing the day prior to the conference; the workshop.

Screen Shot 2014-03-17 at 1.12.05 PMThis was sad, as I had heard several people talk about how amazing the talks were; and for me, I wish I was able to hear the talk on father involvement (a talk that at least 7 people told me was great to listen to) given by Dr Louise Keown and Tenille Frank (PhD Candidate).

The Audience: About 300 researchers, practitioners, and policy makers attended the conference. Most speakers appeared to be researchers, while most audience members seemed to be practitioners (with a few policy makers sprinkled in). People were very easy to talk to, friendly, and helpful!

Peculiar Phrases: An interesting outsiders note was that nearly every keynote speaker gave a nod to the indigenous people of Australia. I found it peculiar to thank the indigenous population for allowing research to occur on their land–after all, most Australians were born in Australia. Click here to read a bit about Australia and their reconciliation ideas for past wrong-doings.

Another interesting factoid was that nearly all speakers said “Parent support programs, like Triple P,…” It was just peculiar to constantly hear that phrase repeated.

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Keynote Speakers: The conference had a number of keynote speakers, and they were, as a whole, quite good at discussing research, while speaking in practical tones and relating the importance of the findings to practitioners. Really, a great way to connect with all members of the audience. To see the keynote speakers’ powerpoints (and nearly every other presenters’ powerpoints) click this HFCC website.

In fact the whole first half of each day was devoted to keynote speakers. To see a pdf list of all of the keynote speakers and the titles of their talks click here and click here to see a pdf of everyone’s names and abstracts. Or consequently, you can click here to see the webpage with all of the abstracts.

20140219_233204Being a conference that promotes Triple P – Positive Parenting Program, Dr Matthew Sanders spoke, both at the workshop and as a keynote speaker, and is fantastic to listen to. He, perhaps giving a nod to some of my co-researchers in Sweden, spoke about the past, present, and future of parent training programs, and specifically talked for a while on the cost-effectiveness of a population shift.

20140220_013020Another wonderful talk was given by Dr Rachel Calam from the University of Manchester speaking about reaching vulnerable families.

The Venue: HFCC was held at the Sheraton in Sydney–a very lovely hotel, with fast internet, and amazing food. In fact, I can honestly say that we were served the best seafood, salads, meats, and desserts that I’ve ever had at a conference! It was served buffet style (always risky on quality), the food was quite good quality…and never-ending.

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Posters and Symposium: Since half of the day was spent listening to keynote speakers and the other half listening to symposiums, there weren’t many posters, and posters, although on display during the whole conference, were only subject for review during lunch. And therefore, I felt that the posters weren’t given a lot of respect.

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Having said that, I noticed a unique feature about the posters–it was really hard to find a poster that just discussed one study. Most of the posters were either grouped studies or were theoretical/methodological. In other words, if you want to present your findings on a particular study at HFCC, give a presentation.

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The symposiums were well attended, with 20-30 people listening to the symposium. Having been at conferences where the only audience are the speakers, this was great. And the audience, mostly practitioners, were quite keen on what they could take away from the talks. Therefore, the talks that were less researchy and more applicable received more attention from the audience (aka–less stats/more findings and implications).

Overall, the conference was of high quality on all accounts: organized very well, with email reminders being sent, devoted and friendly staff helping to find symposium rooms, great opportunities to network, passionate keynote speakers, and they even collected the powerpoints from the various symposiums so that others could have access to the talks after the conference. To see those powerpoints, click on this HFCC website, and then feel free to rummage through and find the talk you’re looking for 🙂

Click here to read about my presentation at the conference.