A Randomized Trial of Digitally Delivered, Self-Administered Parent Training in Primary Care: Effects on Parenting and Child Behavior

J Pediatr. 2021 Apr;231:207-214.e4. doi: 10.1016/j.jpeds.2020.12.016. Epub 2020 Dec 16.


Objective: To evaluate the effects of a self-administered, digital behavioral parent training program on parent and child behavior for parents of young children.

Study design: A randomized controlled trial compared ezParent (digital delivery of the evidence-based Chicago Parent Program) with an enhanced usual-care control. Introduction to the study occurred during well-child visits at 4 primary care clinics. In total, 287 parents of children age 2-5 years were randomized to ezParent or the control. Parents responded to surveys evaluating parent behavior, self-efficacy, and stress, and child behavior at baseline, and 3-, 6-, and 12-months postbaseline. Multilevel growth models examined parent and child outcomes for intervention efficacy in intent-to-treat analyses. Secondary moderation analysis explored intervention effects by program use and baseline parenting stress and child behavior problems.

Results: The intervention main effect was not significant for parent and child behaviors. In exploratory moderation analysis, parents in the ezParent condition with greater baseline parenting stress reported less corporal punishment (P = .044); and greater improvement in parental warmth (P = .008), setting limits (P = .026), and proactive parenting (P = .019). Parents reporting greater baseline child behavior problems reported greater improvements in parental warmth (P = .007), setting limits (P = .003), and proactive parenting (P = .010). There were no differences in outcomes based on program usage.

Conclusions: Results suggest that ezParent as a self-administered behavioral parent training program may not be intense enough for child and parent behavioral change as a universal prevention model. Parents may require different levels of support for completion based on their level of service seeking, family characteristics, risk profile, and motivation for change.

Trial registration: Clinicaltrials.gov: NCT02723916.

Keywords: child behavior; internet; mHealth; parenting; primary health care.

Publication types

  • Randomized Controlled Trial
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Child Behavior*
  • Child, Preschool
  • Computer-Assisted Instruction
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Parenting*
  • Parents / education*
  • Primary Health Care

Associated data

  • ClinicalTrials.gov/NCT02723916