What Affects Attendance and Engagement in a Parenting Program in South Africa?

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Shenderovich, Yulia  ORCID logo  https://orcid.org/0000-0002-0254-3397
Eisner, Manuel 
Cluver, Lucie 
Doubt, Jenny 
Berezin, McKenzie 

Parenting programs are a promising approach to improving family well-being. For families to benefit, programs need to be able to engage families actively in the interventions. Studies in high-income countries show varying results regarding whether more disadvantaged families are equally engaged in parenting interventions. In low- and middle-income countries (LMICs), almost nothing is known about the patterns of participation in parent training. This paper examines group session attendance and engagement data from 270 high-risk families enrolled in the intervention arm of a cluster-randomized controlled trial in South Africa. The trial evaluated a 14-week parenting intervention aiming to improve parenting and reduce maltreatment by caregivers. The intervention was delivered in 20 groups, one per study cluster, with 8 to 16 families each. Overall, caregivers attended 50% of group sessions and children, 64%. Using linear multilevel models with Kenward-Roger correction, we examined child and caregiver baseline characteristics as predictors of their attendance and engagement in the group sessions. Variables examined as predictors included measures of economic, educational, and social and health barriers and resources, as well as family problems and sociodemographic characteristics. Overall, the study yielded no evidence that the level of stressors, such as poverty, was related to attendance and engagement. Notably, children from overcrowded households attended on average 1.2 more sessions than their peers. Our findings suggest it is possible to engage highly disadvantaged families that face multiple challenges in parenting interventions in LMICs. However, some barriers such as scheduling, and alcohol and substance use, remain relevant.

Adolescents, Child maltreatment, Parenting, South Africa, Adolescent, Child, Child, Preschool, Female, Humans, Male, Parenting, Parents, Poverty, Rural Population, Social Class, South Africa, Urban Population
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Springer Science and Business Media LLC
Research was funded by the European Research Council under the European Union’s Seventh Framework Programme (FP7/2007-2013, grant agreement 313421), UNICEF Innocenti Office of Research, Leverhulme Trust (grant number PLP-2014-095), University of Oxford’s ESRC Impact Acceleration Account (K1311-KEA-004; 1602-KEA-189), and the John Fell Fund (103/757). I was supported by Cambridge Commonwealth, European & International Trust and Additional Insights 2016-2017 Fellowship.