Children, Youth, Families & Schools, Nebraska Center for Research on


Date of this Version



Published in Prevention Science 19 (2018), pp 674–684.

doi 10.1007/s11121-017-0791-3

PMID: 28444518


Copyright © 2017 Society for Prevention Research. Published by Springer. Used by permission.


The public health impact of evidence-based, preventive parenting interventions has been severely constrained by low rates of participation when interventions are delivered under natural conditions. It is critical that prevention scientists develop effective and feasible parent engagement methods. This study tested video-based methods for engaging parents into an evidence-based program for divorcing parents. Three alternative versions of a video were created to test the incremental effectiveness of different theory-based engagement strategies based on social influence and health behavior models. A randomized controlled trial was conducted to compare the three experimental videos versus two control conditions, an information-only brochure and an information-only video. Participants were attendees at brief, court-mandated parent information programs (PIPs) for divorcing or never married, litigating parents. Of the 1123 eligible parents, 61% were female and 13% were never married to the child’s other parent. Randomization to one of five conditions was conducted at the PIP class level, blocking on facilitator. All participants completed a 15-item, empirically validated risk index and an invitation form. Results of regression analyses indicated that the most streamlined version, the core principles video, significantly increased parents’ interest in participating in the parenting intervention, enrollment during a follow-up call, and initiation (i.e., attending at least one session) compared to one or the other control conditions. Findings suggest that videos based on social influence and health behavior theories could provide an effective and feasible method for increasing parent engagement, which would help maximize the public health benefits of evidence-based parenting interventions.