Translational Behavioral Medicine

, Volume 6, Issue 1, pp 90–104 | Cite as

Translational research on parenting of adolescents: Linking theory to valid observation measures for family centered prevention and treatment

  • Amanda Chiapa
  • Georgina Parra Morris
  • Marie Hélène Véronneau
  • Thomas J. DishionEmail author
Original Research


Parental monitoring and family problem solving are key parenting practices targeted in evidence-based interventions targeting adolescents and families, yet the constructs have yet to be validated across ethnic groups. The study’s objective was to promote translational research by evaluating convergent, discriminant, and predictive validity of the two constructs at age 16–17 years through the use of multiple observation indicators and methods and as a function of ethnic status. Videotaped parent–adolescent family interactions were coded for monitoring and problem solving in a sample of 714 European American (EA; 59.2 %) and African American (AA; 40.8 %) males (53.8 %) and females (46.2 %). Structural equation models established convergent and discriminant validity of parental monitoring and problem solving among parent, youth, and observation measures for AA and EA families. Low levels of parent monitoring was highly predictive of antisocial behavior in EA and in AA youths (p < 0.001) and moderately predicted future drug use (p < 0.001) for both groups at age 18–19. Poorer family problem solving was also moderately predictive of antisocial behavior (p < 0.001 for EA; p < 0.05 for AA) and drug use (p < 0.01 for EA; p < 0.05 for AA) at age 18–19. These findings suggest that interventions targeting parental monitoring and family problem solving can be reliably evaluated through various measurement methods and that such interventions are of value in efforts to prevent and treat problem behavior in adolescence. These family processes are readily observable in videotaped family interaction tasks in both EA and AA families.


Parental monitoring Problem solving Problem behaviors Observations/video coding Ethnicity 



This project was supported by grant DA07031 from the National Institute on Drug Abuse to Thomas Dishion and by a minority supplement to Georgina Parra Morris under grant DA016110 funded by the National Institute on Drug Abuse to Thomas Dishion. The funders had no role in the design of the study, analyses, or interpretation of the findings. We acknowledge the contribution of the Project Alliance staff, Portland public schools, and the participating youths and families. Cheryl Mikkola is appreciated for editorial support on this manuscript.

Compliance with ethical standards

Conflict of interest

All authors declare they have no conflict of interest.

Adherence to ethical principles

All procedures, including informed consent, were in accordance with the ethical standards of APA and the human subjects review board of the University of Oregon.


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Copyright information

© Society of Behavioral Medicine 2016

Authors and Affiliations

  • Amanda Chiapa
    • 1
  • Georgina Parra Morris
    • 1
  • Marie Hélène Véronneau
    • 2
  • Thomas J. Dishion
    • 1
    Email author
  1. 1.Arizona State UniversityTempeUSA
  2. 2.Université du Québec à MontréalMontrealCanada

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