Prevention Science

, Volume 18, Issue 6, pp 630–639 | Cite as

Different Strokes for Different Folks? Contrasting Approaches to Cultural Adaptation of Parenting Interventions

  • Anilena Mejia
  • Patty Leijten
  • Jamie M. Lachman
  • José Ruben Parra-Cardona


Relevant achievements have been accomplished in prevention science with regard to disseminating efficacious parenting interventions among underserved populations. However, widespread disparities in availability of parenting services continue to negatively impact diverse populations in high-income countries (e.g., the USA) and low- and middle-income countries. As a result, a scholarly debate on cultural adaptation has evolved over the years. Specifically, some scholars have argued that in diverse cultural contexts, existing evidence-based parenting interventions should be delivered with strict fidelity to ensure effectiveness. Others have emphasized the need for cultural adaptations of interventions when disseminated among diverse populations. In this paper, we propose that discussions on cultural adaptation should be conceptualized as a “both-and,” rather than an “either-or” process. To justify this stance, we describe three distinct parenting intervention projects to illustrate how cultural adaptation and efficacy of evidence-based interventions can be achieved using contrasting approaches and frameworks, depending on cultural preferences and available resources of local contexts. Further, we suggest the need to develop guidelines for consistent reporting of cultural adaptation procedures as a critical component of future investigations. This discussion is relevant for the broader public health field and prevention science.


Cultural adaptation Health disparities Parenting interventions Low- and middle-income countries Ethnic minorities 


Compliance with Ethical Standards

The three case examples described in this paper received ethical clearance from the committee of the sponsor academic institution.

Disclosures of Conflict of Interest

AM worked as a Postdoctoral Research Fellow from May 2016 until December 2016 at the Parenting and Family Support Centre (PFSC; University of Queensland), which receives royalties from the dissemination of the Triple P Positive Parenting Program around the world. She is not a member of staff at this institution anymore, is not a contributing author in any of the program variants and has never received any royalties from Triple P. JML is a co-developer of the Sinovuyo Caring Families Program. He is also the Executive Director of Clowns without Borders South Africa, the partner organization responsible for implementation of the program. PL and JRPC have no conflicts of interest to declare.

Informed consent

Informed consent was collected from all participants in the three case examples.


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Copyright information

© Society for Prevention Research 2016

Authors and Affiliations

  • Anilena Mejia
    • 1
  • Patty Leijten
    • 2
    • 3
  • Jamie M. Lachman
    • 2
  • José Ruben Parra-Cardona
    • 4
  1. 1.Instituto de Investigaciones Científicas y Servicios de Alta Tecnología (INDICASAT AIP)Ciudad del SaberPanamá
  2. 2.University of OxfordOxfordUK
  3. 3.University of AmsterdamAmsterdamNetherlands
  4. 4.Michigan State UniversityEast LansingUSA

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