Effectiveness of Parent–Child Mediation in Improving Family Functioning and Reducing Adolescent Problem Behavior

Results from a Pilot Randomized Controlled Trial

Published in: Journal of Youth and Adolescence, 2016

Posted on RAND.org on January 22, 2016

by Joan S. Tucker, Maria Orlando Edelen, Wenjing Huang

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Research Questions

  1. Do parent-child mediation programs help families function better and reduce problem behaviors among adolescents?
  2. Are families who participate in parent-child mediation satisfied with the program?

Parent–child mediation programs are intended to resolve or manage disputes and improve family functioning, but rigorous evaluations of their effectiveness are lacking. Families referred to a community-based mediation program (N = 111) were randomized to an intervention or wait-list control group, and completed three surveys over a 12-week period. With the exception of parent–reported child delinquency (which decreased more in the intervention group), this evaluation provides little support for the short-term effectiveness of parent–child mediation for improving family functioning and reducing child problem behaviors in general. Given that this is the first randomized controlled trial of a parent–child mediation program, additional evaluations involving larger samples and longer follow-ups are needed before firm conclusions can be drawn about the effectiveness of this intervention.

Key Findings

  • Families who participated in parent-child mediation showed modest improvements in the short-term, but not more so than families that did not participate in the program.
  • The short-term positive gains tended to erode within three months of program participation.
  • Parents reported greater satisfaction with the mediation process than their children.

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