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First results from the translation, implementation and researching of the Webster-Stratton incredible years (iy) basic parenting programme in Portugal


Background. In Portugal the awareness of the potential of the delivery of parenting programmes as a promotion, prevention and intervention strategy to improve children well-being is growing, both at governmental and local services levels. The use of parenting programmes with proven evidence of effectiveness is a political, social and research issue. To achieve effective implementation of those programmes is another step.
According to the main criteria of Violence Prevention (University of Colorado), funded by the US Government, Office of Juvenile Delinquency Prevention, only 11 programmes (from 600 reviewed) met all the criteria of effectiveness and were designated "Blueprint programmes". Within those the Webster-Stratton Incredible Years Basic Parenting Programme (IY Basic) (www.incredibleyears.com) is particularly relevant to the high-risk preschool children than are main concern of preventive services. The IY Basic is a group programme delivered trough 12 weekly sessions.

Purpose. We present some of the early findings of the first group of parents to whom the IY Basic was effectively delivered in Portugal.
A project at the Centro de Psicopedadogia, a research Centre based at the Faculty of Psychology and Educational Sciences of the University of Coimbra, Portugal, and to whom both authors belong, was established to do research and provide information and consultation about the best practices in terms of parenting support and education. In October 2003 a team had the first training in the delivery of the IY Basic with an US trainer. Following that training the two authors started the coordination of the translation and adaptation to Portuguese of all the IY Basic materials (including the DVD's sub-titles and the translation of the manual). In 2007 the first IY Basic group was delivered by the two authors.
The trial took place in an early-years preschool education centre (3 to 6 years old children) in a city in the centre of Portugal. The families are low-risk and none have a referred child. In total 24 families showed interest to take part; 12 were allocated to the intervention group and 12 to the control group (a waiting list). Before the intervention and after the intervention both groups filled in a group of the measures in order to assess the effectiveness of the intervention. During the intervention at the end of each session parents were asked to fill in a questionnaire concerning their level of satisfaction with regard to each of the program's components (analysed elsewhere along with parents' attendance rate). We present the analyses of differences between pre and post intervention in parenting practices and depression and children's outcomes concerning the following measures:

  • The Parenting Practices Questionnaire adapted from the Oregon Social Learning Centre's discipline questionnaire and revised for young children by Webster-Stratton, Reid e Hammond (2001);
  • The Beck Depression Inventory (1961);
  • The Strengths and Difficulties Questionnaire, Goodman, (1997), parents' version and teachers' version;
  • The Eyberg Child Behaviour Inventory (1978).

Key findings and recommendations. Eleven parents of the intervention group and nine of the control group filled all the questionnaires in the pre and pos-test moments.
The results concerning the parenting practices (Parenting Practices Questionnaire) indicated a positive effect of the intervention with increase in positive discipline (Intervention Group: pre-test = 59.58; pos-test= 77.09; Control Group: pre-test = 58.33; pos-test= 59.59) and reduction in the use of harsh (Intervention Group: pre-test = 37.32; pos-test= 28.47; Control Group: pre-test = 35.44; pos-test= 33.72) and inconsistent (Intervention Group: pre-test = 16.00; pos-test= 14.36; Control Group: pre-test = 17.66; pos-test= 17.66) discipline by parents.
The intervention group also showed reductions in parental depression (Intervention Group: pre-test = 9.09; pos-test= 6.63; Control Group: pre-test = 4.33; pos-test= 3.22).
Children of the parents of intervention groups were described by their parents as showing less problem behaviour (Eyberg Inventory - Intervention Group: pre-test = 104.90; pos-test= 99.36; Control Group: pre-test = 119.66; pos-test= 121.11) (SDQ - total difficulties - Intervention Group: pre-test = 8.54; pos-test= 6.09; Control Group: pre-test = 12.77; pos-test= 12.11) and more social skills (SDQ - prosocial - Intervention Group: pre-test = 8.45; pos-test= 8.63; Control Group: pre-test = 8.44; pos-test= 7.88) in the end of the intervention.
Our results show that the IY Basic is suitable for low-risk community Portuguese parents of pre-school age children, when a strategy to engage parents is implemented (providing child care; develop the programme in the preschool centre) and when the programme is implemented reliably and the facilitators are trained. It is not enough to select an evidence-based programme. We need to offer training and implementation conditions to the facilitators and use an efficacious strategy to recruit and involve the parents.
Our data strongly suggest a recommendation of using the Programme in the prevention of behaviour problems in preschool age children and in the promotion of well-being.
Next steps involve evaluating the programme with families with high-risk children living in a very different cultural context from that in which the programme was delivered and with families with a clinically diagnosed child. Group facilitators need to improve their skills trough supervision.

Key references
Hutchings, J., Bywater, T., & Daley, D. (in press). Early prevention of Conduct Disorder: How and why did the North West Wales Sure Start study work? Journal of Children's Services, 2 (2).
Raver, C., & Knitzer, C. (2002). Promoting the emotional well-being of children and families. Policy Paper No. 3 Ready to enter: What research tells policymakers about strategies to promote social and emotional school readiness among three- and four-year-old children. NY: National Center for Children in Poverty.
Webster-Stratton, C., Reid, M., & Hammond, M. (2001). Preventing conduct problems, promoting social competence: A parent and teacher training partnership in Head Start. Journal of Clinical Child Psychology, 30(3), 283-302.

Contacts: Maria Filomena da Fonseca Gaspar, Centro de Psicopedagogia da Universidade de Coimbra (FEDER/POCI2010-SFA-160-490), Faculty of Psychology and Educational Sciences - University of Coimbra, R. do Colégio Novo, Apartado 6153, 3001-802 Coimbra, Portugal, E-mail: ninigaspar@fpce.uc.pt, Phone 00 351 239851450.

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