Research Update

Recently published research has reported generally positive long term outcomes from early intervention for children with conduct problems.  A follow-up study of 78 children whose parents received the Incredible Years (aka Webster Stratton) parent treatment programme reported the following key messages:-

  • Positive outcomes were mostly maintained 8-10 years later (when compared to national norms for adolescent age groups)
  • Those adolescents with less positive outcomes were those for whom levels of post-treatment parent-child coercion were higher i.e. when parents continued to display a high number of critical interactions towards their child following completion of the training programme.

Long-Term Outcomes of Incredible Years Parenting Program: Predictors of Adolescent Adjustment, Webster-Stratton et al (2011). Child and Adolescent Mental Health Vol. 16, No. 1 pp38-46.

Given the widespread use of this programme in both the US and UK, these finding are encouraging in that they suggest that some of those children with more severe difficulties at an early age can be brought “back on track” and this is maintained into adolescence.  For those children who present with difficulties during adolescence there is the suggestion of looking more closely at the degree to which parenting remains coercive, even after early intervention.  These families may require ongoing support/intervention aimed at further reducing critical parenting and utilising positive parenting strategies.