Background Specialist parenting intervention could improve coexistent parenting and child mental health difficulties of parents affected by severe personality difficulties. Objective Conduct a feasibility trial of Helping Families Programme-Modified (HFP-M), a specialist parenting intervention. Design Pragmatic, mixed-methods trial, 1:1 random allocation, assessing feasibility, intervention acceptability and outcome estimates. Settings Two National Health Service health trusts and local authority children's social care. Participants Parents: (i) primary caregiver, (ii) 18 to 65 years, (iii) severe personality difficulties, (iv) proficient English and (v) capacity for consent. Child: (i) 3 to 11 years, (ii) living with index parent and (iii) significant emotional/behavioural difficulties. Intervention HFP-M: 16-session home-based intervention using parenting and therapeutic engagement strategies. Usual care: standard care augmented by single psychoeducational parenting session. Outcomes Primary feasibility outcome: participant retention rate. Secondary outcomes: (i) rates of recruitment, eligibility and data completion, and (ii) rates of intervention acceptance, completion and alliance (Working Alliance Inventory-Short Revised). Primary clinical outcome: child behaviour (Eyberg Child Behaviour Inventory). Secondary outcomes: child mental health (Concerns About My Child, Child Behaviour Checklist-Internalising Scale), parenting (Arnold-O'Leary Parenting Scale, Kansas Parental Satisfaction Scale) and parent mental health (Symptom-Checklist-27). Quantitative data were collected blind to allocation. Results Findings broadly supported non-diagnostic selection criterion. Of 48 participants recruited, 32 completed post-intervention measures at mean 42 weeks later. Participant retention exceeded a priori rate (HFP-M=18; Usual care=14; 66.7%, 95% CI 51.6% to 79.6%). HFP-M was acceptable, with delivery longer than planned. Usual care had lower alliance rating. Child and parenting outcome effects detected across trial arms with potential HFP-M advantage (effect size range: 0.0 to 1.3). Conclusion HFP-M is an acceptable and potentially effective specialist parenting intervention. A definitive trial is feasible, subject to consideration of recruitment and retention methods, intervention efficiency and comparator condition. Caution is required in interpretation of results due to reduced sample size. No serious adverse events reported. Trial registration number ISRCTN14573230.

Original languageEnglish
Article numbere033637
JournalBMJ Open
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - 6 Feb 2020


  • child & adolescent psychiatry
  • child behaviour
  • parenting
  • personality disorders


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