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“Home Practice Is the Program”: Parents’ Practice of Program Skills as Predictors of Outcomes in the New Beginnings Program Effectiveness Trial


An examination of the content and processes of evidence-based programs is critical for empirically evaluating theories about how programs work, the “action theory” of the program (West et al. in American Journal of Community Psychology, 21, 571–605, 1993). The New Beginnings Program (NBP; Wolchik et al., 2007), a parenting-after-divorce preventive intervention, theorizes that program-induced improvements in parenting across three domains: positive relationship quality, effective discipline, and protecting children from interparental conflict, will reduce the negative outcomes that are common among children from divorced families. The process theory is that home practice of program skills related to these parenting domains is the primary mechanism leading to positive change in parenting. This theory was tested using multi-rater data from 477 parents in the intervention condition of an effectiveness trial of the NBP (Sandler et al. 2016a, 2016b). Four research questions were addressed: Does home practice of skills predict change in the associated parenting outcomes targeted by the program? Is the effect above and beyond the influence of attendance at program sessions? What indicators of home practice (i.e., attempts, fidelity, efficacy, and competence) are most predictive of improvements in parenting? Do these indicators predict parenting improvements in underserved subpopulations (i.e., fathers and Latinos)? Structural Equation Modeling analyses indicated that parent-reported efficacy and provider-rated parent competence of home practice predicted improvements in the targeted parenting domains according to both parent and child reports. Moreover, indicators of home practice predicted improvements in parenting for fathers and Latinos, although patterns of effects varied by parenting outcome.

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Correspondence to Cady Berkel.

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Support for the study was provided by R01DA026874 (Sandler), R01DA033991 (Berkel & Mauricio), and competitive funding from the Center for Prevention Implementation Methodology (Ce-PIM), P30-DA027828 (Brown/Berkel), Diversity Supplement R01DA033991-03S1 (Berkel/Gallo), and SAMHSA’s Minority Fellowship Program SM060563-03 (Chiapa).

Conflict of Interest

Sandler and Wolchik are the developers of the NBP and have an LLC that trains providers to deliver the program. Remaining authors declare that they have no conflict of interest.

Ethical Approval

All procedures performed in studies involving human participants were in accordance with the ethical standards of Arizona State University’s IRB 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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Berkel, C., Sandler, I.N., Wolchik, S.A. et al. “Home Practice Is the Program”: Parents’ Practice of Program Skills as Predictors of Outcomes in the New Beginnings Program Effectiveness Trial. Prev Sci 19, 663–673 (2018).

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  • Program implementation
  • Program engagement
  • Participant responsiveness
  • Gender
  • Ethnicity