Adolescent behavioral health problems are associated with parent perceptions of evidence-based therapy and preferences when seeking therapeutic support.

Margaret E. Crane, Sarah A. Helseth, Kelli Scott, Sara J. Becker*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract

Informational materials from psychological associations often encourage parents to seek out “evidence-based therapies” (EBTs) to address their child’s behavioral health concerns. This study examined whether parents concerned about their adolescent’s substance use had distinct preferences for EBT principles and marketing language based on their adolescent’s specific behavioral health problems. Parents (N = 411; 86% female; 88% non-Hispanic White) of adolescents (age 12–19 years) completed an online direct-to-consumer (DTC) marketing survey as part of a larger multi-phase study. Parents reported their adolescents had high rates of current externalizing (66%), internalizing (51%), substance-related (39%), and legal (25%) problems. Parents answered questions about their perceived definition of EBT, whether they valued underlying EBT principles (i.e., reliance on a proven approach vs. a varied approach), their preferred terms for describing EBT, and factors they considered when choosing a therapist. Most parents defined EBT correctly, regardless of their adolescent’s behavioral health problems. Parents of adolescents with internalizing or legal problems were less likely to value EBT principles, with legal problems emerging as the more important multivariate predictor. Additionally, parents of adolescents with substance-related or legal problems had distinct preferences for the terms used to describe EBTs. Finally, parents of adolescents with externalizing problems had distinct preferences for factors they considered when choosing a therapist. Psychologists and psychological associations seeking to disseminate information about EBTs to parents can utilize these DTC marketing-informed results to tailor outreach strategies based on adolescent behavioral health problems.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)130-136
Number of pages7
JournalProfessional Psychology: Research and Practice
Volume52
Issue number2
DOIs
StatePublished - Feb 22 2021

Keywords

  • adolescent
  • direct-to-consumer marketing
  • mental health
  • substance use

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Psychology(all)

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