Effectiveness of Facebook Groups to Boost Participation in a Parenting Intervention

Prev Sci. 2019 Aug;20(6):894-903. doi: 10.1007/s11121-019-01018-0.


Although family-based prevention programs have been shown to be effective at reducing adolescent substance use, it is often difficult and costly to recruit and retain parents in programs administered in person. The current study tested whether program engagement and parenting practices could be improved by offering parents in a self-directed family program access to a private Facebook group. Parents of middle school children (N = 103) were recruited through paid Facebook ads to a 5-week self-directed teen substance use prevention program to be completed at home together by parents and their children. Two thirds of parents (N = 72) were randomly assigned to a moderated private Facebook group that provided a forum for parents in the study to interact with each other, and one third (N = 31) were randomized to use the intervention materials without additional support. Relatively few parents participated in the Facebook group and most did not find the experience useful. However, satisfaction with the program assessed 3 months after program completion was high among all parents and most parents engaged with the materials, irrespective of Facebook group assignment. Overall, parents reported significantly lower conflict and more household rules 6 months post-intervention compared to baseline. Parenting practices did not change more among those assigned to the Facebook group than among parents who used the materials on their own. The current findings suggest that providing opportunities for parents to interact online while participating in a self-directed family intervention may not help to increase engagement or improvements in parenting practices, particularly when few parents engage with each other.

Keywords: Facebook groups; Facebook recruiting; Parenting intervention; Parenting practices.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adolescent Behavior
  • Colorado
  • Group Processes*
  • Humans
  • Parenting*
  • Program Evaluation
  • Social Media*
  • Substance-Related Disorders / prevention & control
  • Surveys and Questionnaires
  • Washington