Prevention Science

, Volume 16, Issue 4, pp 621–632 | Cite as

SEARCHing for Solutions: Applying a Novel Person-Centered Analysis to the Problem of Dropping Out of Preventive Parent Education

  • Jessica A. MinneyEmail author
  • John E. Lochman
  • Rosanna E. Guadagno


Behavioral parent training is an effective intervention for many child behavior problems; however, low parent attendance and premature termination of intervention have been chronic barriers to successful implementation. Socioeconomic factors, demographic characteristics, social support, stressful life events, and parental depression have all been identified in prior research as risk factors for premature termination. The present study tested whether these risk factors were valid predictors in a targeted prevention sample using a novel methodology, a binary segmentation procedure (SEARCH), to identify meaningful subgroups within the sample. The SEARCH procedure, a person-centered approach to analysis, resulted in five mutually exclusive groups. These groups were classified based on social support and stressful life events, and group membership significantly predicted attendance at parent training. Other frequently studied predictors, such as income, were not significant predictors within this sample. The groups which were characterized by higher social support and fewer life events typically attended more sessions; however, the relationship between these risk factors was not linear and would not have been detected by many other methods of analysis. These findings both contribute to the overall literature on parent training preventions, and suggest that binary segmentation procedures, such as SEARCH, may have widespread utility in prevention research because such procedures allow for the detection of non-linear interactions between risk factors.


Cluster-type analyses Binary segmentation Parent training preventions Person-centered analysis 



The authors would like to thank Neil Van Eck for his review of the methodology, David Pollio for his suggestions on this research, Michael Alec Owens and Mary Margaret Popova for their careful editing, and the University of Alabama ASPECT group for their helpful comments on an earlier draft of this paper.

Conflict of Interest

The authors declare that they have no conflict of interest.


Dr. Lochman is a developer of the Coping Power program, and has a publishing agreement with Oxford University Press. Ms. Minney and Dr. Guadagno have no financial relationships to disclose. This research was supported by a grant from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (R49 CCR418569).


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Copyright information

© Society for Prevention Research 2014

Authors and Affiliations

  • Jessica A. Minney
    • 1
    • 3
    Email author
  • John E. Lochman
    • 1
  • Rosanna E. Guadagno
    • 2
  1. 1.The University of AlabamaTuscaloosaUSA
  2. 2.University of Texas at DallasRichardsonUSA
  3. 3.Department of PsychologyThe University of AlabamaTuscaloosaUSA

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