Study protocol for a randomized clinical trial of a fatherhood intervention for African American non-resident fathers: Can we improve father and child outcomes?

Contemp Clin Trials. 2016 Jul;49:29-39. doi: 10.1016/j.cct.2016.05.005. Epub 2016 May 28.


Purpose: African American (AA) fathers who live apart from their children face multiple obstacles to consistent and positive involvement with their children. Consequently, significant numbers of children are bereft of their father's positive involvement. Intervention research that is explicitly focused on promoting the positive involvement of non-resident AA fathers with their young children is limited. The purpose of this article is to describe the study protocol of a randomized trial (RCT) designed to test the Building Bridges to Fatherhood program against a financial literacy comparison condition; and discuss early implementation challenges.

Methods: Fathers (n=180) are recruited to attend 10 group meetings, reimbursed for transportation, given dinner and activity vouchers for spending time with their child, and incentivized with a $40 gift card at each data collection time point. Mothers are incentivized ($40 gift card) at data collection and must be amenable to father child interaction. Intervention targets include father psychological well-being, parenting competence, communication, problem-solving ability; father-mother relationship quality; and child behavioral and emotional/social development.

Results: To date, 57 fathers have been randomized to study condition. Recruitment has been influenced by father and mother hesitancy and the logistics of reaching and maintaining contact with participants. Strategies to surmount challenges to father and mother recruitment and engagement have been developed.

Conclusions: The prospective benefits of positive father involvement to children, fathers and families outweigh the challenges associated with community-based intervention research. The findings from this RCT can inform the body of knowledge on engaging AA non-resident fathers in culturally relevant fatherhood programming.

Keywords: African American; Children; Fatherhood; Non-resident fathers; intervention.

Publication types

  • Randomized Controlled Trial
  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Black or African American*
  • Child Custody*
  • Child, Preschool
  • Communication
  • Father-Child Relations*
  • Fathers / psychology*
  • Humans
  • Mental Health*
  • Motivation
  • Parenting*
  • Patient Selection
  • Problem Solving
  • Residence Characteristics*