Journal of Child and Family Studies

, Volume 20, Issue 3, pp 343–352 | Cite as

Measuring Parenting in Community and Public Health Research Using Brief Child and Parent Reports

  • Stephen Scott
  • Jacqueline Briskman
  • Mark R. Dadds
Original Paper


The use of multi-method, multi-informant assessment is a hallmark of research in child development and mental health; however, many research strategies such as population surveys require brief assessment tools. The Alabama Parenting Questionnaire (APQ) is a popular measure of empirically identified aspects of positive and negative parenting styles important to conduct problems in children. A brief version exists, however it does not measure all relevant parenting domains, and it has not been validated for child reports. We evaluated validity of the brief parent and child report version of the complete five subscale version of the APQ in a sample of 208 children aged between 9 and 17, at risk for conduct problems and antisocial behaviour. The results showed that all five dimensions of parenting can be measured using a brief 15 item version; specifically child and parent reports converged as expected and discriminated high from low conduct problem children using parent and teacher reports. Only child reports converged with independent observations of parenting behaviour, supporting previous research showing that child reports of parenting are particularly important. Finally, results did not support the typical methods used for combining child and parent reports into one index.


Parenting Conduct problems Children Measurement Alabama parenting questionnaire 


  1. Barry, C. T., Frick, P. J., & Grafeman, S. J. (2008). Child versus parent reports of parenting practices: Implications for the conceptualization of child behavioral and emotional problems. Assessment, 15, 294–303.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  2. Burt, S. A., McGue, M., Krueger, R. F., & Iacono, W. G. (2005). Sources of covariation among the child-externalizing disorders: Informant effects and the shared environment. Psychological Medicine, 35, 1133–1144.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  3. Clerkin, S. M., Marks, D. J., & Policaro, K. L. (2007). Psychometric properties of the Alabama parenting questionnaire—preschool revision. Journal of Clinical Child and Adolescent Psychology, 36, 19–28.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  4. Collishaw, S., Goodman, R., Ford, T., Rabe-Hesketh, S., & Pickles, A. (2009). How far are associations between child, family and community factors and child psychopathology informant-specific and informant-general? Journal of Child Psychology and Psychiatry, 50, 571–580.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  5. Dadds, M. R., Maujein, A., & Fraser, J. (2003). Parenting and conduct problems in children: Australian data and psychometric properties of the Alabama parenting questionnaire. Australian Psychologist, 38, 238–241.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  6. Elgar, F. J., Waschbusch, D. A., Dadds, M. R., & Sigvaldason, N. (2007). Development and validation of a short form of the Alabama parenting questionnaire. Journal of Child and Family Studies, 16, 243–259.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  7. Essau, C. A., Sasagawa, S., & Frick, P. J. (2006). Psychometric properties of the Alabama parenting questionnaire. Journal of Child and Family Studies, 15, 597–616.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  8. Goodman, R. (1997). The strengths and difficulties questionnaire: A research note. Journal of Child Psychology and Psychiatry and Allied Disciplines, 38, 581–586.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  9. Grotevant, H. D., & Cooper, C. R. (1985). Patterns of interaction in family relationships and the development of identity exploration in adolescence. Child Development, 56, 415–428.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  10. Hawes, D., & Dadds, M. R. (2006). Assessing parenting practices through parent-report and direct observation during parent training. Journal of Child and Family Studies, 15, 554–567.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  11. Hetherington, M., Hagan, M. S. & Eisenberg, M. M. (1992). Family interaction global coding system. Unpublished manual.Google Scholar
  12. Matias, C. (2006). Direct observation of parent-child interaction based on attachment theory. Unpublished PhD Thesis.Google Scholar
  13. McCarty, C. A., Lau, A. S., Valeri, S. M., & Weisz, J. R. (2004). Parent-child interactions in relation to critical and emotionally over involved expressed emotion (EE): Is EE a proxy for behavior? Journal of Abnormal Child Psychology, 32, 83–93.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  14. Meltzer, H., Gatward, R., Goodman, R., & Ford, F. (2000). Mental health of children and adolescents in Great Britain. London: The Stationery Office.Google Scholar
  15. Patterson, G. R. (2002). The early development of coercive family process. In J. B. Reid, G. R. Patterson, & J. Snyder (Eds.), Antisocial behavior in children and adolescents: A developmental analysis and model for intervention (pp. 25–44). Washington, DC: American Psychological Association.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  16. Sanders, M. R. (1999). Triple P-positive parenting program: Towards an empirically validated multilevel parenting and family support strategy for the prevention of behavior and emotional problems in children. Clinical Child and Family Psychology Review, 2(2), 71–90.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  17. Scott, S., Spender, Q., Doolan, M., Jacobs, B. & Aspland, H. (2001). Multicentre controlled trial of parenting groups for childhood antisocial behaviour in clinical practice. British Medical Journal, 323(7306), 194–198.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  18. Scott, S., Sylva, K., Doolan, M., Price, J., Jacobs, B., Crook, C., et al. (2010). Randomised controlled trial of parent groups for child antisocial behavior targeting multiple risk factors: the SPOKES project. Journal of Child Psychology and Psychiatry, 51(1), 48–57.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  19. Shelton, K. K., Frick, P. J., & Wooton, J. (1996). Assessment of parenting practices in families of elementary school-age children. Journal of Clinical Child Psychology, 25, 317–329.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  20. Smith, G. T., McCarthy, D. M., & Anderson, K. G. (2000). On the sins of short-form development. Psychological Assessment, 12, 102–111.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media, LLC 2010

Authors and Affiliations

  • Stephen Scott
    • 1
  • Jacqueline Briskman
    • 1
  • Mark R. Dadds
    • 1
  1. 1.Department of Child & Adolescent PsychiatryKings College London, Institute of PsychiatryLondonUK

Personalised recommendations