The Journal of Primary Prevention

, Volume 36, Issue 1, pp 33–40 | Cite as

One-Year Follow-Up of Guided Self-Help for Parents of Preschool Children With Externalizing Behavior

  • Elena Ise
  • Frauke Kierfeld
  • Manfred Döpfner
Original Paper


Self-help programs are an effective intervention for parents of children with externalizing behavior. A number of studies have shown that self-administered parent training has positive short-term effects on a child’s behavior, but there is little research done on long-term outcomes. This paper reports results from a 1-year follow-up of a randomized controlled prevention trial of self-administered parent training with minimal therapist contact. In the initial prevention trial, we randomly assigned 48 preschool children with elevated levels of externalizing behavior to either a treatment group (TG) or a waitlist control group (WLC). The intervention consisted of written material and brief weekly telephone consultations. Thirty-six families (25 TG families, 11 WLC families) completed the self-help program. Twenty-five of these participated in a follow-up assessment 1 year after the intervention. There were no significant changes from post-test to follow-up on measures of child behavior (e.g., Attention-Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder and Oppositional Defiant Disorder symptom rating scales) and parental mental health, indicating that gains achieved post-intervention were maintained for at least 1 year. Moreover, the percentage of children with substantial behavior problems was reduced from pre-intervention to follow-up. These findings provide evidence that telephone-assisted self-help programs can be effective in the prevention of disruptive behavior problems.


Self-help parenting intervention Prevention Externalizing behavior Preschool children Parent training Follow-up 



We would like to thank all the children and their parents for participating in this study.

Conflict of interest

Manfred Döpfner is the author of the self-help book “Wackelpeter & Trotzkopf” on which the intervention was based. He receives royalties from the publisher.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media New York 2014

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry and Psychotherapy, Medical FacultyUniversity of CologneCologneGermany

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