Achieving sustained engagement in family-based preventive intervention programs is a serious challenge faced by program implementers. Despite the evidence supporting the effectiveness and potential population-level impacts for these programs, their actual impact is limited by challenges around retention of participants. In order to inform efforts to better retain families, it is critical to understand the different patterns of attendance that emerge across the duration of program implementation and the factors that are associated with each attendance pattern. In this study, we identified latent classes of attendance patterns across the seven program sessions of the Strengthening Families Program: For Parents and Youth Ages 10-14 (SFP 10-14). Youth and their parents who attended at least one SFP 10-14 program session together were included in the analysis. Four distinct classes emerged: First-Session Attenders (7%), Early Attenders (9%), Declining-High Attenders (18%), and Consistent-High Attenders (66%). An examination of individual, family, and sociodemographic predictors of class membership revealed that adolescent school bonding predicted families having relatively high attendance, adolescent involvement with deviant peers predicted early dropout, and family low-income status predicted early dropout. Findings point to the need for potential targeted strategies for retaining these groups, such as involving school personnel, employing brief interventions to identify and address barriers at the outset, and leveraging the positive influence of Consistent-High Attenders. Findings also shed light on ways to reach those who may continue to drop out early, such as restructuring program content to address critical material early in the program. This study adds to the growing body of literature that seeks to understand for whom, when, and in which ways program dropout occurs.
Keywords: Attendance; Barriers; Family-based program; Latent class analysis; Motivations.
© 2021. The Author(s), under exclusive licence to Springer Science+Business Media, LLC, part of Springer Nature.