Prevention Science

, Volume 13, Issue 3, pp 252–266 | Cite as

Effects of a Universal Parenting Program for Highly Adherent Parents: A Propensity Score Matching Approach

  • Manuel Eisner
  • Daniel Nagin
  • Denis Ribeaud
  • Tina Malti


This paper examines the effectiveness of a group-based universal parent training program as a strategy to improve parenting practices and prevent child problem behavior. In a dissemination trial, 56 schools were first selected through a stratified sampling procedure, and then randomly allocated to treatment conditions. 819 parents of year 1 primary school children in 28 schools were offered Triple P. 856 families in 28 schools were allocated to the control condition. Teacher, primary caregiver and child self-report data were collected at baseline, post, and two follow-up assessments. Analyses were constrained to highly adherent parents who completed all four units of the parenting program. A propensity score matching approach was used to compare parents fully exposed to the intervention with parents in the control condition, who were matched on 54 baseline characteristics. Results suggest that the intervention had no consistent effects on either five dimensions of parenting practices or five dimensions of child problem behavior, assessed by three different informants. These findings diverge from findings reported by program developers and distributors. Potential explanations for the discrepancy and implications for future research are discussed.


Prevention Randomized controlled trial Propensity score matching Parent training 



We wish to acknowledge financial support for the study by the Swiss National Science Foundation, the Jacobs Foundation, the Swiss Federal Office of Public Health, the Canton of Zurich Ministry of Education, and the Julius Baer Foundation. We also thank the anonymous reviewers for helpful comments on earlier versions of this article.


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Copyright information

© Society for Prevention Research 2012

Authors and Affiliations

  • Manuel Eisner
    • 1
  • Daniel Nagin
    • 2
  • Denis Ribeaud
    • 3
  • Tina Malti
    • 4
  1. 1.Institute of CriminologyUniversity of CambridgeCambridgeUK
  2. 2.Heinz CollegeCarnegie Mellon UniversityPittsburghUSA
  3. 3.Department of SociologySwiss Federal Institute of TechnologyZurichSwitzerland
  4. 4.Department of PsychologyUniversity of TorontoMississaugaCanada

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