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The Effectiveness of Parenting Skills Training Programs for Parents with Histories of Sexual Trauma, Serious Mental Illness, or Military Service

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 The Effectiveness of Parenting Skills Training Programs for Parents with Histories of Sexual Trauma, Serious Mental Illness, or Military Service

Recommended citation:
Waldrop JB, Schechter JC, Davis NO, et al. The Effectiveness of Parenting Skills Training Programs for Parents with Histories of Sexual Trauma, Serious Mental Illness, or Military Service: A Systematic Review. Washington, DC: Evidence Synthesis Program, Health Services Research and Development Service, Office of Research and Development, Department of Veterans Affairs. VA ESP Project #09-010; 2023.



Download PDF: Complete Report, Executive Summary, Report, Appendices

Takeaway

Parenting skills programs can improve outcomes among families where parents have a history of SMI or military service. Although the certainty of the evidence is low due to the high risk of bias of the identified studies and heterogeneity of intervention approaches, most included studies reported statistically significant findings on key parent, child, and family outcomes. We found no studies conducted among parents with a history of military sexual trauma, other sexual trauma in adulthood, or PTSD.

Context

Parenting skills programs are effective at improving key outcomes in family systems. Yet, most parenting programs have centered on the child's presentation. Given that military Veterans are more likely to have histories of SMI and sexual trauma stressors that may impact parenting behaviors, the Veteran population served by the VHA may benefit from parenting skills training programs. Yet, it is unknown if parenting programs are effective among populations that have family stressors like those of the Veteran population.

Key Findings

In our review, most studies reported statistically significant findings on prioritized parent, family, and child outcomes, showing a general pattern of improvements across diverse types of parenting skills training programs that mirror findings in other studies of parenting programs. Most studied took a family systems perspective and included other family members in the intervention (spouse, children). Generally, studies that were effective at improving parenting skill were group-based or delivered in-person. Yet, the literature has limitations. We found no studies conducted with parents with sexual trauma histories or PTSD. Our certainty of evidence ratings were generally low due to issues with risk of bias of included studies or indirectness of populations or intervention approaches to the VA health care context. While parenting skills training programs show promise among populations served by the VHA, it is important to consider the feasibility and scalability of implementation across the VHA when evaluating these parenting programs.


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