Methods: Nationwide screening resulted in 129 (formerly) incarcerated mothers with children (age 2-10), of which 87.6% chose to participate. After randomization, 91 mothers with 133 children were included in intention-to-treat analyses. Reliable change index scores were obtained to examine change (increase/stability/decrease) in antisocial behavior (ECBI), parenting behavior (APQ), and parenting stress (NOSIK) for every child. To examine the form of change over time and its dependence on the intervention, three latent growth curve models (LGCM; parenting behavior, parenting stress, antisocial behavior) were conducted in Mplus, controlling for multilevel structure. Additionally, multigroup LGCM analyses were utilized to examine between-group differences, and a multigroup four-wave cross-lagged panel model to examine the mediating role of parenting behavior.
Results: A significant intervention effect on maternal parenting was found at follow-up. When examining change, analyses revealed significant decreases in child antisocial behavior and parenting stress for the combined group of intervention mothers and mothers who never attended the intervention (but were invited). Both of the examined parenting behaviors mediated between the intervention effect and antisocial behavior, while one of these behaviors mediated between parenting stress and antisocial behavior.
Conclusions: The results of our study show that short-term effects partially sustain at follow-up, and confirm the key role of parenting behaviors in this at-risk population. We discuss implications and importance of current and future assessments of antisocial behavior (including registered offences) to examine whether this program may help breaking the intergenerational cycle of crime.