Informing the personalisation of interventions for parents of children with conduct problems: a qualitative study

Kathy McKay*, Eilis Kennedy, Rob Senior, Stephen Scott, Jonathan Hill, Moira Doolan, Matt Woolgar, Siofra Peeren, Bridget Young

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

7 Citations (Scopus)


Background: Parenting programmes aim to alleviate behavioural problems in children, including conduct disorder. This study was part of a multi-phase mixed-methods project seeking to extend the reach of parenting programmes for the treatment of conduct problems through developing an evidence base to inform a personalised approach. It explored the narratives of parents of children with behavioural and conduct problems about parenting programmes to identify how such programmes could be personalised in order to extend their reach to parents and children who do not currently benefit. Methods: Face-to-face semi-structured interviews with a purposive sample of 42 parents, who had different experiences of parenting programmes. Interviews were conversational and informed by a topic guide. Analysis of transcripts of audio-recorded interviews drew on inductive thematic approaches and was framed largely within a phenomenological perspective. Results: Parents’ accounts demonstrated three themes: 1) a personalised approach needs to include the child; 2) a supportive school matters; and, 3) the programme needs to feel personal. Parents were more likely to have a positive experience at a parenting programme, and for their child to demonstrate positive behavioural changes, when they felt their concerns were validated within the group and they also felt supported by the child’s teachers. Parents whose children had been assessed prior to undertaking the programme were also more likely to perceive the programme to be beneficial, compared to parents who felt their child’s individual issues were never considered. Conclusions: Our findings point to the potential for personalised approaches to extend the reach of parenting programmes to parents and children who do not currently benefit from such programmes. Important in personalising parenting programmes is assessing children before parents are referred, to directly work with children as well as parents, and to work collaboratively with parents and children to identify which families are most suited to group support or one-to-one support and how this may change depending on circumstances.

Original languageEnglish
Article number513
JournalBMC Psychiatry
Issue number1
Early online date20 Oct 2020
Publication statusPublished - 1 Dec 2020


  • Children
  • Conduct disorder
  • Mental health
  • Parenting programme
  • Personalisation
  • Qualitative


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