Method: The current study includes military families who participated in a randomized controlled trial of a parenting intervention known as After Deployment, Adaptive Parenting Tools (ADAPT). Both intra- and inter-individual factors are protective for PTSD risk, and this study examined whether these factors protect parenting in the presence of PTSD. At baseline, fathers completed four self-report scales that assessed PTSD symptoms, dyadic adjustment, perceived social support, and emotion regulation. Fathers completed a behavioral (Go-No Go) task that assessed executive function (inhibitory control). To examine father parenting practices, coded observations of well-validated structured Family Interaction Tasks yielded indicators of 1) problem solving outcome; 2) harsh discipline; 3) positive involvement; 4) skill encouragement; 5) monitoring.
Results: Among the 282 fathers who were eligible for participation in the ADAPT intervention and had baseline data, 42 (15%) met clinical levels for PTSD. Preliminary results suggest that fathers with PTSD reported significantly (p<.05) lower dyadic adjustment, perceived social support, and emotion regulation than those without PTSD. Analyses are currently underway to examine the impact of these factors on observed father parenting. Controlling for demographic and military covariates, regression analyses will be used to examine whether stronger dyadic adjustment, perceived social support, emotion regulation, and executive function are associated with effective positive parenting strategies and whether these factors will differentially account for the five indicators of effective parenting.
Conclusion: The results of this study will have significant implications on how to best inform preventative interventions for fathers with PTSD returning from deployment. By examining multiple protective factors and their relationships to parenting quality, this study will elucidate targets of intervention that can be leveraged to better tailor preventative interventions that effectively support fathers with PTSD to engage in positive parenting.