Clinical Child and Family Psychology Review

, Volume 21, Issue 3, pp 415–432 | Cite as

Enhancing Initial Parental Engagement in Interventions for Parents of Young Children: A Systematic Review of Experimental Studies

  • Carolina Gonzalez
  • Alina Morawska
  • Divna M. Haslam


Low rates of participation in parenting interventions may undermine their effectiveness. Although a wide range of strategies to engage parents in interventions are described in the literature, little is known about which engagement strategies are most effective in enhancing parental engagement. This systematic review explores effective engagement strategies to encourage initial parental engagement (recruitment, enrolment, and first attendance) in parenting interventions for parents of children aged 2–8 years old. This review was conducted based on the guidelines of the Cochrane Handbook for Systematic Reviews of Interventions (Higgins and Green 2011) and the Preferred Reporting Items for Systematic Review and Meta-Analysis (Moher et al. 2009). Electronic systematic searches from January 1996 to August 2017 were conducted in PsycINFO, Scopus, ProQuest Social Sciences Journals, CINAHL, and PubMed databases. Eight studies met the inclusion criteria representing 1952 parents from four different countries. Of the engagement strategies tested in included studies (monetary incentive, setting, testimonial, advertisement, and engagement package), three strategies (advertisement, incentive, and engagement package) showed a significant effect on a stage of engagement, but none across stages. The low methodological quality of the selected studies limits their generalisability and thus provides limited evidence regarding effective engagement strategies to increase recruitment, enrolment, and first attendance rates in parenting interventions. There is a need for further, more methodologically rigorous, research evidence regarding how to engage parents more effectively in the early stages of parenting interventions.


Parental engagement Parenting intervention Engagement strategies Young children Systematic review 



We would like to thank Miranda Newell, Librarian from the University of Queensland Library, for her assistance with developing search strategy and protocol. We also thank Bao Yi Tan, who collaborated as the second reviewer for selection of articles by full text.

Author Contributions

CG, AM, and DH contributed to the drafting of the protocol. CG ran the searches and retrieved potentially relevant studies. CG was one of the two reviewers for selection by full text. AM was the third reviewer to deal with discrepancies. CG conducted data extraction for selected studies. CG, AM, and DH wrote the review.


CG is supported by a scholarship granted by CONICYT (Comisión Nacional de Investigación Científica y Tecnológica) Becas Chile 72160251. This research did not receive any specific grant from funding agencies in the public, commercial, or not-for-profit sectors.

Compliance with Ethical Standards

Conflict of interest

The Parenting and Family Support Centre is partly funded by royalties stemming from published resources of the Triple P—Positive Parenting Program, which is developed and owned by The University of Queensland (UQ). Royalties are also distributed to the Faculty of Health and Behavioural Sciences at UQ and contributory authors of published Triple P resources. Triple P International (TPI) Pty Ltd is a private company licensed by Uniquest Pty Ltd on behalf of UQ, to publish and disseminate Triple P worldwide. The authors of this report have no share or ownership of TPI. Alina Morawka and Divna M. Haslam receive royalties from TPI. TPI had no involvement in the study design, collection, analysis or interpretation of data, or writing of this report. Alina Morawska and Divna M. Haslam are employees at UQ. Carolina Gonzalez is a student at UQ.


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Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Parenting and Family Support Centre, School of PsychologyThe University of QueenslandBrisbaneAustralia

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