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Positive parenting programs have a strong evidence base for improving parent–child relationships, strengthening families, and reducing childhood behavior disturbances. Their reach is less than optimal however, with only a minority of families in need of help participating. Father involvement is particularly low. Online, self-directed programs have the potential to improve participation rates. This article examines risk factors for dropout/attrition from a free, evidence-based, self-directed, father-inclusive parenting program, Parentworks, which was made available across Australia. Parents (N = 2,967) enrolled in the program and completed preintervention questionnaires. There was a steady and consistent loss of participants through the sequence of core program modules, until a final sample of 218 completed the postintervention questionnaire. A range of demographic and parent and child variables were tested as predictors of 3 subgroups: nonstarters, partial completers, and full completers. Nonstarters (n = 1,625) tended to have older children with fewer behavioral problems and report higher psychopathology and dysfunctional parenting than those who partially (n = 1,124) or fully completed. Contrary to findings from face-to-face research, single parents had the highest completion rates. Coparticipation of partners and interparental conflict had no impact on completion rates. Fathers participated at relatively high levels. Results show that parents with the greatest need tend to engage with online programs, and online programs may be particularly useful for fathers, single parents, and those in conflicted relationships. Directions for future program design and research are discussed.


Institute for Learning Sciences and Teacher Education

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Open Access Journal Article

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Open Access

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Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License.