Direct-to-Consumer Marketing for Parent-Child Interaction Therapy: Impact of Language and Messenger

  • Miya L. BarnettEmail author
  • Natalie A. Bernal
  • Berta Erika Luis Sanchez
Original Paper



Parent-Child Interaction Therapy (PCIT) is an effective therapy to treat early onset disruptive behavior problems and child physical maltreatment. In order to support the successful implementation and sustainment of PCIT, strategies are needed to recruit parents into care, especially for racial and ethnic minority families, who often have lower rates of access and utilization of mental health services.


This study investigated the impact of direct-to-consumer advertisements on parents’ attitudes towards PCIT. Advertisements were delivered in Spanish and English, with either a parent testimony or therapist explaining the treatment. Participants were parents of children between the ages of 2 and 7, who were recruited through Amazon Mechanical Turk. Participants (N= 204) were 38.2% female and 49.5% Spanish speaking.


There were no main effects for language or messenger related to PCIT Help-Seeking Intentions, Attitudes, or Stigmatization. However, there was an interaction effect for language and messenger for PCIT Help-Seeking Intentions. Specifically, Spanish-speaking participants had higher intentions when the messenger was a therapist rather than a parent, and had lower intentions than English-speaking parents when the messenger was a parent.


These findings are promising for direct-to-consumer advertising strategies that may help recruit more Spanish-speaking families into PCIT, which could help address disparities in access to mental health services.


Parent-child interaction therapy Direct-to-consumer marketing Evidence-based treatment Mental health disparities Parental engagement 


Author Contributions

M.L.B. oversaw the design for this study, reviewed the data analysis, and wrote the final version of the paper. B.E.L.S. conducted the data analyses, made the tables and figures, and collaborated on writing the paper. N.A.B. helped to develop the study materials and design, collected the data as part of a McNair Scholar Project, and contributed to writing early drafts of the paper.


This study was funded by the McNair Scholars Program awarded to N.B. Effort to write this manuscript was supported by the National Institute of Mental Health (K01MH110608) awarded to M.L.B. Additionally, the preparation of this article was supported in part by the Implementation Research Institute (IRI) at the Brown School, Washington University in St. Louis, through an award from the National Institute of Mental Health (R25 MH080916). M.L.B. is a fellow of IRI.

Compliance with Ethical Standards

Conflict of Interest

The authors declare that they have no conflict of interest.

Ethical Approval

All procedures performed in studies involving human participants were in accordance with the ethical standards of the institutional and/or national research committee and with the 1964 Helsinki declaration and its later amendments or comparable ethical standards. The protocol for this study was approved by the Institutional Review Board at the University of California, Santa Barbara.

Informed Consent

Informed consent was obtained from all individual participants included in the study.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media, LLC, part of Springer Nature 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of Counseling, Clinical and School PsychologyUniversity of CaliforniaSanta BarbaraUSA

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