Objective: A package of parent-child interaction therapy (PCIT) combined with a self-motivational (SM) orientation previously was found in a laboratory trial to reduce child abuse recidivism compared with services as usual (SAU). Objectives of the present study were to test effectiveness in a field agency rather than in a laboratory setting and to dismantle the SM versus SAU orientation and PCIT versus SAU parenting component effects.
Method: Participants were 192 parents in child welfare with an average of 6 prior referrals and most with all of their children removed. Following a 2 x 2 sequentially randomized experimental design, parents were randomized first to orientation condition (SM vs. SAU) and then subsequently randomized to a parenting condition (PCIT vs. SAU). Cases were followed for child welfare recidivism for a median of 904 days. An imputation-based approach was used to estimate recidivism survival complicated by significant treatment-related differences in timing and frequency of children returned home.
Results: A significant orientation condition by parenting condition interaction favoring the SM + PCIT combination was found for reducing future child welfare reports, and this effect was stronger when children were returned to the home sooner rather than later.
Conclusions: Findings demonstrate that previous laboratory results can be replicated in a field implementation setting and among parents with chronic and severe child welfare histories, supporting a synergistic SM + PCIT benefit. Methodological considerations for analyzing child welfare event history data complicated by differential risk deprivation are also emphasized.