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West J Emerg Med. 2010 Aug;11(3):235-41.

Predictors of engagement in a parenting intervention designed to prevent child maltreatment.

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  • 1College of Public Health, University of Georgia, Athens, GA.



THE OBJECTIVES OF THIS ANALYSIS WERE TO: 1) assess the impact of socio-demographic factors on parents' perception of the benefits of attending a parenting program designed to prevent child maltreatment vs. the costs in terms of time and difficulty to attend, 2) determine if perceived costs and benefits affected the association between socio-demographic factors and participation in a parenting program, and 3) assess whether race/ethnicity moderated the relationship between socio-demographic factors, perceived costs and benefits, and program participation.


We assessed perceived costs and benefits of the intervention from parents providing self-reports, including satisfaction/usefulness of the program (benefits), and time/difficulty associated with the program (costs). We defined attendance at both the mid-point and then the number of classes attended throughout the remainder of the intervention. To investigate the direct and indirect effects (through perceived costs and benefits) of parental socio-demographic factors (education, age, gender, number of children, household income) on program attendance, we analyzed the data with structural equation modeling (SEM). To assess the potential moderating effect of race/ethnicity, separate models were tested for Caucasian and African-American parents.


Perceived benefits positively impacted attendance for both Caucasian (n=227) and African-American (n=141) parents, whereas perceived costs negatively influenced attendance only for Caucasian parents. Parent education and age directly impacted attendance for Caucasian parents, but no socio-demographic factor directly impacted attendance for African-American parents. The indirect impact of socio-demographic characteristics on attendance through perceived costs and perceived benefits differed by race/ethnicity.


Results suggest that Caucasian parents participate in a parenting program designed to prevent child maltreatment differently based upon their perceived benefits and costs of the program, and based on benefits only for African-American parents. Parental perception of costs and/or benefits of a program may threaten the effectiveness of interventions to prevent child maltreatment for certain racial/ethnic groups, as it keeps them from fully engaging in empirically validated programs. Different methods may be required to retain participation in violence-prevention programs depending upon race/ethnicity.

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