Changes in self-reported and observed parenting following a randomized control trial of parent–child interaction therapy for the treatment of preschool depression

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Abstract

Background: Parenting in early childhood exerts substantial influence over children’s emotional health and development. Using data from a randomized controlled trial of a novel treatment for early childhood depression, Parent–Child Interaction Therapy Emotion Development (PCIT-ED), we explored two broad dimensions of parenting (behavior and affect) to determine whether any changes could be detected following treatment when compared to those in a waitlist control condition. Method: 229 caregiver–child dyads, 114 randomly assigned to PCIT-ED for preschool-onset depression, and 115 assigned to a waitlist completed two structured interaction tasks at baseline and post-treatment. Interactions were later coded by observer's blind to diagnostic and treatment status. Results: Greater reductions were found in self-reported negative parenting behaviors and observed negative affect and greater increases in self-reported positive parenting behaviors and observed positive affect among the caregivers in the treatment group. Increases in the overall positivity of the observed interactional style of caregivers, but no observed parenting behavior change was found following treatment. Discrepancies between self-reported and observed parenting were greater among caregivers on the waitlist. Conclusions: Following PCIT-ED treatment, caregivers self-reported improvements in parenting practices and declines in punitive practices along with observed increases in positive affect and decreases in negative affect when interacting with their child. Moreover, coherence between self-reported and observed parenting was higher in the treatment group. These findings highlight the efficacy of PCIT-ED in improving parenting behaviors and the need to use multiple methods to assess parenting in treatment studies.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)86-96
Number of pages11
JournalJournal of Child Psychology and Psychiatry and Allied Disciplines
Volume62
Issue number1
DOIs
StatePublished - Jan 2021

Keywords

  • Parenting practices
  • observational
  • parent–child interaction
  • parent–child interaction therapy
  • preschool depression

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