Prevention Science

, Volume 16, Issue 5, pp 674–684 | Cite as

An Exploration of Parents’ Perceptions and Beliefs About Changes Following Participation in a Family Skill Training Program: a Qualitative Study in a Developing Country

  • Anilena Mejia
  • Fiona Ulph
  • Rachel Calam


Family skill training programs have been recognized as effective strategies for preventing substance use. However, they have been evaluated mainly in high-income countries. Families in developing countries also face difficulties; therefore, it is important to explore the fit of existing programs in this context. The present study explores parents’ perceptions and beliefs about changes following participation in the Strengthening Families Program 10–14, which was implemented in Panama by the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime. Thirty parents who had taken part in the program between 2010 and 2011 were interviewed. Thematic analysis was conducted taking a participant-driven inductive stand. An exploration of parents’ narratives suggested that, after the program, they observed changes in themselves as parents, in their children, in the interaction between the two of them, and in their functioning as a couple. Perceived changes centered on communication, limits, obedience, relationship roles, emotional regulation, and social development. For example, parents reported being able to control their emotions in a healthier manner, reducing the use of shouting and setting limits in a more effective way. All these factors have been recognized in previous research as strategies for preventing substance use. It is important to assess participants’ perceptions of programs brought from elsewhere before dissemination efforts can take place. Parents interviewed for this study appeared to hold positive views about this program. This methodology is discussed as a means of evaluating evidence-based interventions in different cultural settings.


Qualitative Family skill training Substance use Developing country 



We would like to thank the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime in Panama and Vienna for their support in carrying out this study.

Conflict of Interest

The authors declare that they have no conflict of interest.


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Copyright information

© Society for Prevention Research 2014

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.School of Psychological SciencesThe University of ManchesterManchesterUK

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