, Volume 9, Issue 3, pp 725–736 | Cite as

Parent Engagement in Online Mindfulness Exercises Within a Parent Training Program for Post-Deployed Military Families

  • Na Zhang
  • Jessie H. Rudi
  • Osnat Zamir
  • Abigail H. Gewirtz


Mindfulness has drawn increased attention in prevention programs targeting parents. Commonly, mindfulness-based programs are provided to reduce parental stress and improve child outcomes. Less often, researchers incorporate a mindfulness-informed approach, integrating a low dose of mindfulness exercises into an existing evidence-based parent training model. Little is known about participant engagement with mindfulness exercises in such programs. This non-experimental study focuses on families who are at risk for impaired parenting due to the unique stressor of a parent’s deployment to war. The goal is to examine military parents’ online engagement in mindfulness exercises and associations between engagement and dispositional mindfulness within a web-enhanced parent training program. Online tracking records and self-reported data were obtained from 370 military parents (207 families) who were assigned to the program; at 6-month follow-up, 68.6% of these parents were retained (at least one parent reported from 75.4% of families). Results showed that nearly half (44.6%) of the parents engaged with the exercises. Participants who attended face-to-face group sessions (i.e., attendees) engaged throughout the intervention period, whereas participants who never attended group sessions (i.e., non-attendees) mostly engaged during the first month in the program. Attendees and mothers engaged more than non-attendees and fathers. While engaged parents self-reported increased dispositional mindfulness at 6-month follow-up compared to baseline, only mothers’ engagement accounted for a significant proportion of the variance (3%) in dispositional mindfulness at 6-month follow-up, after controlling for covariates. Implications for incorporating online mindfulness exercises into parent training are discussed in the context of programming for military families.


Mindfulness Parenting Prevention Online Military families 



This study was funded by grants from National Institute of Drug Abuse (R01-DA030114) and US Department of Agriculture, Agriculture Experiment Station (1008164) to Abigail H. Gewirtz. We are thankful to the families who participated in the study.

Author Contributions

NZ: conceptualized the research questions, conducted data analyses, and wrote the paper. JHR: assisted with the conceptualizations, interpretation of results and implications, and writing of the study. OZ: collaborated with the research design and data analyses and wrote part of the results. AHG: supervised the study and collaborated in the writing and editing of the manuscript.

Compliance with Ethical Standards

Ethics and Informed Consent

This study was approved by the Institutional Review Board of the University of Minnesota—Twin Cities. Formal consent was obtained from all participants before the study was conducted.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media, LLC 2017

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of Family Social ScienceUniversity of MinnesotaSt. PaulUSA
  2. 2.Institute for Translational Research in Children’s Mental HealthUniversity of MinnesotaMinneapolisUSA
  3. 3.The Paul Baerwald School of Social Work and Social WelfareThe Hebrew UniversityJerusalemIsrael

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