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Feasibility of Online Parent Training to Promote Parent-Adolescent Communication about Drugs

Funding Source

NIDA, R21DA026545

Project Period

6/1/09 – 5/31/12

Principal Investigator

Sarah Lord, PhD

Other Project Staff

Lisa A. Marsch, PhD (Co-I)

Project Summary

The goal of this project is to establish the feasibility and preliminary efficacy of an online parent training approach to promote parent-adolescent communication about alcohol and other drugs. Parent-adolescent communication has consistently emerged as an important deterrent to initiation and progression of drug use. Yet, many parents and adolescents don’t communicate effectively about drugs and relatively little is known about parents’ and adolescents’ perceptions of barriers to such communication and individual, psychosocial and contextual factors that may influence these barriers. Parent training programs can be effective in promoting communication that results in reduced drug use. However, many extant programs are time- and resource-intensive and universal in approach. Widespread dissemination to communities may be costly to sustain and relevance of the material for parents of adolescents of different ages in a community may vary. A technology-based approach to parent training can offer a cost-effective solution for broad-based delivery of developmentally appropriate, tailored information and skill-building to a range of parents in different communities.

The proposed project has four aims to address gaps in the research and practice regarding parent-adolescent communication: 1) Identify topic-specific barriers to communication about drug use, 2) Examine the association of individual, psychosocial, and contextual factors with perceived barriers to communication and communication behaviors, 3) Determine the outreach needs of substance abuse prevention coalitions and their constituents, and 4) Establish technical and practical feasibility and preliminary efficacy of an online training module to overcome barriers and promote parent-adolescent communication.

A community-based participatory approach that combines qualitative and quantitative methodologies will be used to ensure that the project deliverables reflect the needs of the substance abuse prevention coalition communities. The project will form the foundation for a program of research to examine the efficacy of a fully developed online parent training program for affecting parent-adolescent communication and youth drug use behaviors.