Parent recruitment and retention in a universal prevention program for child behavior and emotional problems: barriers to research and program participation

Prev Sci. 2005 Dec;6(4):275-86. doi: 10.1007/s11121-005-0006-1.


Despite the potential of parent training as a prevention and behavioral family intervention strategy, there are a number of important issues related to implementation (e.g., recruitment and retention of families). This paper presents recruitment and retention data from families enrolling in a randomized controlled universal prevention trial for child behavior problems conducted in Germany. The recruitment rate averaged 31% (general project participation), with families of lower socioeconomic status (SES) participating at a lower rate. Project-declining families most often reported intrusion of privacy as their primary concern. In contrast, once parents were enrolled in the project, participation among those randomized to the parent training group averaged 77% (program/intervention participation); non-participation was mostly due to logistical issues. Parents accepting the offer of parent training were more likely to report child behavior problems than did declining parents. Although parents from more disadvantaged areas had a lower overall level of participation in the project once recruited, parents with children having higher levels of behavior problems indeed were more likely to participate in the intervention. Different recruitment methods may be required to engage high-risk families from socioeconomically disadvantaged areas to further improve community-level impact on child mental health.

Publication types

  • Randomized Controlled Trial
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Affective Symptoms / prevention & control*
  • Child Behavior Disorders / prevention & control*
  • Child, Preschool
  • Data Collection
  • Germany
  • Humans
  • Middle Aged
  • Parents / education*
  • Program Development*
  • Research Subjects*
  • Social Class
  • Surveys and Questionnaires