Methods: Multivariate regression analyses were performed to examine predictors of program attendance, including demographic characteristics, parenting practices and parent-child relationships, military experiences, youth problem behaviors, and the amount of time between enrollment and a scheduled group. Analyses included 159 parent-child dyads randomized to the 7-week family program. At baseline, most (74%) families included both parents of the target child; average child age was 11 years. One or both parents served in the military on active duty (75%) or in the National Guard/Reserve (25%); 96% of parents (or their spouse/partner) had deployed at least once since 2001. Implementation quality ratings by program facilitators, participants, and observers also were assessed.
Results: Only 39% of families attended one or more program sessions. Reasons for nonattendance included family relocation, scheduling conflicts, or lack of interest. Among attending families, 71% attended four or more sessions. Wait time for the program decreased the likelihood of attending any sessions; family service utilization increased the likelihood. Child truancy increased the likelihood of attending 4 or more sessions and above-average attendance. Parental socialization about substance use was negatively associated with number of sessions attended.
Concerning quality of implementation, parent and youth participation in the program’s activities were rated as “active” according to both facilitators and observers (M = 3.9 and 3.7 on a 0-4 scale, respectively). Observers indicated that 91% of activities were completed as intended and facilitators indicated no implementation challenges in 70% of sessions. Facilitator quality was rated highly by both observers (M = 3.8 on a 0-4 scale) and participants (M = 3.8 for parents and 3.5 for youth on a 0-4 scale). Feedback surveys revealed that parents and youth most enjoyed dedicated family time, importance of working together as a family and setting love and limits, and interaction with other military families. The focus on how to handle peer pressure was also an important theme for parents and youth.
Conclusions: These results suggest that high quality implementation of prevention programs is possible with military families and that it is important to develop strategies that effectively address barriers to attendance.