Technology-Enhanced BPT for Early-Onset Behavior Disorders: Improved Outcomes for Children With Co-Occurring Internalizing Symptoms
OBJECTIVE/UNASSIGNED:Early-onset behavior disorders (BDs) are common and costly. The evidence-base for Behavioral Parent Training (BPT), the standard of care for early intervention for BDs in young children, is well-established; yet, common comorbidities such as internalizing symptoms are common and their impact, not well understood. The goal of the current study was to examine the potential for technology to improve BPT effects on observed parenting and child behavior outcomes for families of children recruited for clinically significant problem behavior who also presented with relatively higher internalizing symptoms. METHOD/UNASSIGNED: = 101), who are overrepresented in statistics on early-onset BDs, were randomized to an evidence-based BPT program, Helping the Noncompliant Child (HNC), or Technology-Enhanced HNC (TE-HNC). Children were ages 3 to 8 years (55.4% were boys). Child race included White (64.0%), Black or African American (21.0%), more than one race (14.0%), and Hispanic/Latinx (13.9%). RESULTS/UNASSIGNED:Families in both groups evidenced improvement in internalizing symptoms at posttreatment; however, TE-HNC yielded the greatest improvement in positive parenting and child compliance at posttreatment and follow-up for children with the highest internalizing symptoms at baseline. CONCLUSIONS/UNASSIGNED:TE-HNC resulted in improved parenting and child behavior outcomes for children with elevated levels of co-occurring internalizing symptoms at baseline relative to standard HNC. We posit that these added benefits may be a function of TE-HNC, creating the opportunity for therapists to personalize the treatment model boosting parent skill use with more complex presentations, although a formal test of mediation will be important in future work.
Technology-Enhanced Behavioral Parent Training: The Relationship Between Technology Use and Efficiency of Service Delivery
Behavior disorders (BDs) are common and, without treatment, can have long-term impacts on child and family health. Behavioral Parent Training (BPT) is the standard of care intervention for early-onset BDs; however, structural socioeconomic barriers hinder treatment outcomes for low-income families. While digital technologies have been proposed as a mechanism to improve engagement in BPT, research exploring the relationship between technology use and outcomes is lacking. Thus, this study with 34 low-income families examined the impact of parents' use of adjunctive mobile app components on treatment efficiency in one technology-enhanced (TE-) BPT program, Helping the Noncompliant Child (HNC). While parent use of the TE-HNC app and its impact on the efficiency of service delivery varied across specific components, increased app use significantly reduced the number of weeks required for families to achieve skill mastery. Implications for the design and development of behavior intervention technologies in general, as well as for BPT in particular, are discussed.
A randomized controlled trial of technology-enhanced behavioral parent training: sustained parent skill use and child outcomes at follow-up
BACKGROUND:Early-onset (3-8 years old) disruptive behavior disorders (DBDs) have been linked to a range of psychosocial sequelae in adolescence and beyond, including delinquency, depression, and substance use. Given that low-income families are overrepresented in statistics on early-onset DBDs, prevention and early-intervention targeting this population is a public health imperative. The efficacy of Behavioral Parent Training (BPT) programs such as Helping the Noncompliant Child (HNC) has been called robust; however, given the additional societal and structural barriers faced by low-income families, family engagement and retention barriers can cause effects to wane with time. This study extends preliminary work by examining the potential for a Technology-Enhanced HNC (TE-HNC) program to improve and sustain parent skill proficiency and child outcomes among low-income families. METHODS:A randomized controlled trial with two parallel arms was the design for this study. A total of 101 children (3-8-years-old) with clinically significant problem behaviors from low-income households were randomized to HNC (n = 54) or TE-HNC (n = 47). Participants were assessed at pre-treatment, post-treatment, 3-month, and 6-month follow-ups. Primary outcomes were parent-reported and observed child behavior problems. Secondary outcomes included observed parenting skills use (ClinicalTrials.gov Identifier: NCT02191956). RESULTS:Primary analyses used latent curve modeling to examine treatment differences in the trajectory of change during treatment, maintenance of treatment gains, and levels of outcomes at the 6-month follow-up. Both programs yielded improvements in parenting skills and child problems at post-treatment. However, TE-HNC families evidenced greater maintenance of parent-reported and observed child behavior and observed positive parenting skills at the 6-month follow-up. CONCLUSIONS:Our findings contribute to an ongoing line of work suggesting that technology-enhanced treatment models hold promise for increasing markers of engagement in BPT and sustaining long-term outcomes among low-income families.
Clinical Presentation and Treatment of Early-Onset Behavior Disorders: The Role of Parent Emotion Regulation, Emotion Socialization, and Family Income
Parent emotion regulation and socialization have been linked to various aspects of child functioning. In the case of early-onset behavior disorders in particular, parent emotion regulation may be an important correlate of the coercive cycle implicated in early-onset behavior disorders thus, symptom presentation at baseline. Further, emotion socialization may be complicated by a pattern of parent-child interactions in which both supportive or unsupportive parenting behaviors in response to behavioral dysregulation may increase vulnerability for problem behavior in the future. Some work suggests standard Behavioral Parent Training may impact parent emotion regulation and socialization. Still little is known, however, about how such processes may vary by family income, which is critical given the overrepresentation of low-income children in statistics on early-onset behavior disorders. This study explored parent emotion regulation, socialization, and family income in a sample of socioeconomically diverse treatment-seeking families of young (3-8 years old) children. Findings suggest relations between parental emotion regulation, socialization, and child behavior although the pattern of associations differed at baseline and post-treatment and varied by family income. Clinical implications and future directions are discussed.
COVID-19 and the Acceleration of Behavioral Parent Training Telehealth: Current Status and Future Directions
The SARS-COV-2 (COVID-19) pandemic and associated social distancing guidelines have accelerated the telehealth transition in mental health. For those providing Behavioral Parent Training (BPT), this transition has called for moving sessions that are traditionally clinic-based, active, and directive to engaging, supporting, and treating families of children with behavior disorders remotely in their homes. Whereas many difficulties accompany this transition, the lessons learned during the current public health crisis have the potential to transform BPT service delivery on a large scale in ways that address many of its long-standing limitations. We describe both challenges and opportunities and consider the possibilities inherent in a large scale BPT service delivery model capable of increasing the reach and impact of evidence-based treatment for all families.
Validation of the Multidimensional Assessment of Parenting: An application of item response theory
Parenting is a critical mechanism contributing to child and adolescent development and outcomes. The Multidimensional Assessment of Parenting Scale (MAPS) is a new measure that aims to address gaps in the literature on existing self-report parenting measures. Research to date on the MAPS includes essential steps of scale development and validation; however, replicating scale dimensionality and examining differential item functioning (DIF) based on child age and a parent or child gender is a critical next step. The current study included 1,790 mothers and fathers of sons and daughters, spanning childhood to adolescence in the United States. Item response theory (IRT) confirmed initial factor-analytic work revealing positive and negative dimensions; however, the best-fitting multidimensional model included six nested dimensions from the original seven. A few notable items displayed DIF based on child age and parent gender; however, DIF based on child gender had minimal impact on the overall score. Future directions, clinical implications, and recommendations are discussed. (PsycInfo Database Record (c) 2021 APA, all rights reserved).
Optimizing Engagement in Behavioral Parent Training: Progress Toward a Technology-Enhanced Treatment Model
Low-income families are more likely to have a child with an early-onset Behavior Disorder (BD); yet, socioeconomic strain challenges engagement in Behavioral Parent Training (BPT). This study follows a promising pilot to further examine the potential to cost-effectively improve low-income families' engagement in and the efficiency of BPT. Low-income families were randomized to (a) Helping the Noncompliant Child (HNC; McMahon & Forehand, 2003), a weekly, mastery-based BPT program that includes both the parent and child or (b) Technology-Enhanced HNC (TE-HNC), which includes all of the standard HNC components plus a parent mobile application and therapist web portal that provide between-session monitoring, modeling, and coaching of parent skill use with the goal of improved engagement in the context of financial strain. Relative to HNC, TE-HNC families had greater homework compliance and mid-week call participation. TE-HNC completers also required fewer weeks to achieve skill mastery and, in turn, to complete treatment than those in HNC without compromising parent satisfaction with treatment; yet, session attendance and completion were not different between groups. Future directions and clinical implications are discussed.
Helping the Noncompliant Child: An Updated Assessment of Program Costs and Cost-Effectiveness
Behavior disorders (BD) in children can lead to delinquency, antisocial behavior, and mental disorders in adulthood. Evidence-based behavioral parent training (BPT) programs have been developed to treat early-onset BDs, yet cost analyses of BPT are deficient. We provide updated estimates of cost and cost-effectiveness of Helping the Noncompliant Child (HNC), a mastery-based BPT, delivered to low-income families. The cost of research-specific activities was $1,152 per family. HNC program delivery costs were $293 per family from a payer perspective, including the cost of therapist time ($275 per family) and non-labor resources, such as supplies and toys ($18 per family). It costs an average of $6 to improve the Eyberg Child Behavior Inventory intensity score by each additional point or $171 to improve it by one standard deviation. The cost of delivering the HNC program appears to compare favorably with the costs of similar BPT programs.
Engagement in technology-enhanced interventions for children and adolescents: Current status and recommendations for moving forward
Treatment engagement is a primary challenge to the effectiveness of evidence-based treatments for children and adolescents. One solution to this challenge is technology, which has been proposed as an enhancement to or replacement for standard clinic-based, therapist delivered services. This review summarizes the current state of the field regarding technology's promise to enhance engagement. A review of this literature suggests that although the focus of much theoretical consideration, as well as funding priorities, relatively little empirical research has been published on the role of technology as a vehicle to enhance engagement in particular. Moreover, lack of consistency in constructs, design, and measures make it difficult to draw useful comparisons across studies and, in turn, to determine if and what progress has been made toward more definitive conclusions. At this point in the literature, we can say only that we do not yet definitively know if technology does (or does not) enhance engagement in evidence-based treatments for children and adolescents. Recommendations are provided with the hope of more definitively assessing technology's capacity to improve engagement, including more studies explicitly designed to assess this research question, as well as greater consistency across studies in the measurement of and designs used to test engagement.
Conducting Psychological Intervention Research in the Information Age: Reconsidering the "State of the Field"
Enthusiasm for technology in mental health has evolved as a function of its promise to increase the reach and impact of services, particularly for traditionally at-risk and underserved groups. Preliminary findings suggest that technology-enhanced interventions indeed hold promise for increasing engagement in and outcomes of evidence-based treatment approaches. The time- and resourceintensive nature of traditional randomized control trials, however, may be even more of a challenge for further advancement in this area, given the rapid innovation of consumer driven new product development. Accordingly, this review aims to summarize how a broader range of scientific designs and analyses may be necessary in order to further advance and optimize the reach and impact of technology-enhanced psychological practice. Examples of various approaches are provided and recommendations are provided for future work in this area.