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A Nonrandomized Evaluation of a Brief Nurtured Heart Approach Parent Training Program



Parent training programs are increasingly being offered to the general public with little formal evaluation of their effects. One such program, the Nurtured Heart Approach to parenting (NHA; Glasser and Easley in Transforming the difficult child: The Nurtured Heart Approach, Vaughan Printing, Nashville, 2008), contains elements with strong theoretical and empirical support, but NHA as a whole remains to be empirically evaluated.


The purpose of the present study was to provide an initial test of the effectiveness of NHA through a quasi-experiment in a community sample.


The present study uses data from 41 five-week NHA parent training courses offered to the general public in a Midwestern U.S. city. Participation in programming occurred through self-selection. An information-only comparison group was recruited from the same community using convenience sampling. Baseline and follow-up questionnaires were completed by trained parents and comparison parents.


Program parents reported gains in well-being, while comparison parents remained relatively stable in well-being scores. Parents trained in NHA increased in providing positive attention to their children and decreased in yelling, scolding, and responding with negativity; comparison group parents demonstrated no changes with regard to these practices. At both baseline and follow-up, parents in the comparison group perceived more strengths in their children than did program parents, but at follow-up the difference had narrowed by half of a standard deviation, indicating progress in changing parent perceptions of children.


Though the present study is limited by weaknesses in study design, the evidence is compelling enough to suggest further investigation and implementation of NHA with parents.

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Correspondence to Alison L. Brennan.

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All procedures performed in studies involving human participants were in accordance with the ethical standards of the institutional and/or national research committee and with the 1964 Helsinki declaration and its later amendments or comparable ethical standards.

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Informed consent was obtained from all individual participants included in the study.

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Brennan, A.L., Hektner, J.M., Brotherson, S.E. et al. A Nonrandomized Evaluation of a Brief Nurtured Heart Approach Parent Training Program. Child Youth Care Forum 45, 709–727 (2016).

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