Background: Parenting programs could provide effective routes to increasing children's physical activity and reducing screen-viewing. Many studies have reported difficulties in recruiting and retaining families in group parenting interventions. This paper uses qualitative data from the Teamplay feasibility trial to examine parents' views on recruitment, attendance and course refinement.
Methods: Semi-structured interviews were conducted with 16 intervention and 10 control group parents of 6-8 year old children. Topics discussed with the intervention group included parents' views on the recruitment, structure, content and delivery of the course. Topics discussed with the control group included recruitment and randomization. Interviews were digitally recorded, transcribed and thematically analyzed.
Results: Many parents in both the intervention and control group reported that they joined the study because they had been thinking about ways to improve their parenting skills, getting ideas on how to change behavior, or had been actively looking for a parenting course but with little success in enrolling on one. Both intervention and control group parents reported that the initial promotional materials and indicative course topics resonated with their experiences and represented a possible solution to parenting challenges. Participants reported that the course leaders played an important role in helping them to feel comfortable during the first session, engaging anxious parents and putting parents at ease. The most commonly reported reason for parents returning to the course after an absence was because they wanted to learn new information. The majority of parents reported that they formed good relationships with the other parents in the group. An empathetic interaction style in which leaders accommodated parent's busy lives appeared to impact positively on course attendance.
Conclusions: The data presented indicate that a face-to-face recruitment campaign which built trust and emphasized how the program was relevant to families positively affected recruitment in Teamplay. Parents found the parenting component of the intervention attractive and, once recruited, attendance was facilitated by enjoyable sessions, empathetic leaders and support from fellow participants. Overall, data suggest that the Teamplay recruitment and retention approaches were successful and with small refinements could be effectively used in a larger trial.