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15 November 2019

Online parenting program evaluations demonstrate positive health outcomes

Busy health professionals should consider referring patients to online support, given that ongoing research into the Triple P – Positive Parenting Program’s online variant, Triple P Online, has yielded impressive parent and child outcomes, with effects largely being maintained at follow-up.

A summary of research results released yesterday provides salient information for health professionals and policymakers, especially in the area of the prevention of child maltreatment:


  • Less use of ineffective and dysfunctional parenting strategies [see references below: 1, 2, 3, 4, 5]
  • Increased parental confidence in parenting roles [4] and in dealing with behavioural concerns [1]
  • Less frequent and fewer child behaviour problems [1, 3, 4, 5]
  • Greater parental self-efficacy [2]
  • Reduced parental anger [4]
  • Decreased risk of child maltreatment and inter-parental conflict, both maternally and paternally [5]



Additional effects were also observed for particular parent populations, such as improvements in:

  • Maternal overactivity, verbosity and laxness for student mothers [6]
  • Child behavioural problems, parental sense of competence and parental stress for parents with Bipolar Disorder [7]
  • Child behavioural problems, lax/permissiveness and overactive parenting, and parental stress for disadvantaged parents (i.e. those who have been incarcerated, are low income, were in drug/alcohol treatment or have had a child removed due to maltreatment) [8]



Given the long waiting lists for treatment and pressure on healthcare systems experienced in many countries, the outcomes for Triple P Online in relation to parents of children with ADHD symptoms is also especially noteworthy:

  • Mother-rated child hyperactivity/inattention, restlessness/impulsivity, defiance/aggression, and social functioning [9]
  • Teacher-rated prosocial behaviour [9]
  • Maternal self-reported improvements in over-reactivity, verbosity, laxness, positive parenting, parenting satisfaction, self-efficacy, stress and depression [9]


Triple P Online has also been shown to be effective for parents of children with a developmental, intellectual, or physical disability, showing:

  • Improvements in parenting practices and parental self-efficacy [10]
  • Decreased child behavioural and emotional problems [10]




[1] Baker, S., Sanders, M. R., Turner, K. M. T., & Morawska, A. (2017). A randomized controlled trial evaluating a low-intensity interactive online parenting intervention, Triple P Online Brief, with parents of children with early onset conduct problems. Behaviour Research and Therapy, 97, 78-90. doi: 10.1016/j.brat.2017.01.016

[2] Day, J. J., & Sanders, M. R. (2017). Mediators of parenting change within a web-based parenting program: Evidence from a randomized controlled trial of Triple P Online. Couple and Family Psychology: Research and Practice, 6(3), 157-170. doi: 10.1037/cfp0000083

[3] Day, J. J., & Sanders, M. R. (2018). Do parents benefit from help when completing a self-guided parenting program online? A randomized controlled trial comparing Triple P Online with and without telephone support. Behavior Therapy, 49(6). doi: 10.1016/j.beth.2018.03.002

[4] Sanders, M. R., Baker, S., & Turner, K. M. T. (2012). A randomized controlled trial evaluating the efficacy of Triple P Online with parents of children with early-onset conduct problems. Behaviour Research and Therapy, 50, 675-684. doi: 10.1016/j.brat.2012.07.004

[5] Sanders, M. R., Dittman, C. K., Farruggia, S. P. and Keown, L. J. (2014). A comparison of online versus workbook delivery of a self-help positive parenting program. Journal of Primary Prevention 35(3), 125-133. doi: 10.1007/s10935-014-0339-2

[6] Ehrensaft, M. K., Knous-Westfall, H. M., & Lopez Alonso, T. (2016). Web-based prevention of parenting difficulties in young, urban mothers enrolled in post-secondary education. Journal of Primary Prevention, 37(6), 527-542. doi: 10.1007/s10935-016-0448-1

[7] Jones, S., Jovanoska, J., Calam, R., Wainwright, L., Vincent, H., Asar, O., . . . Lobban, F. (2017). Web-based integrated bipolar parenting intervention for parents with bipolar disorder: A randomised controlled pilot trial. Journal of Child Psychology and Psychiatry, 58(9), 1033-1041. doi: 10.1111/jcpp.12745

[8] Love, S., Sanders, M., Turner, K., Maurange, M., Knott, T., Prinz, R., . . . Ainsworth, A. (2016). Social media and gamification: Engaging vulnerable parents in an online evidence-based parenting program. Child Abuse & Neglect, 53. doi: 10.1016/j.chiabu.2015.10.031

[9] Franke, N., Keown, L. J., & Sanders, M. R. (2016). An RCT of an online parenting program for parents of preschool-aged children with ADHD symptoms. Journal of Attention Disorders. doi: 10.1177/1087054716667598

[10] Hinton, S., Sheffield, J., Sanders, M. R., & Sofronoff, K. (2017). A randomized controlled trial of a telehealth parenting intervention: A mixed-disability trial. Research in Developmental Disabilities, 65, 74-85. doi: 10.1016/j.ridd.2017.04.005