Randomized Trial of a Cellular Phone-Enhanced Home Visitation Parenting Intervention




Judith J. Carta, Jennifer Burke Lefever, Kathryn Bigelow, John Borkowski, and Steven F. Warren

Brief Type

Journal Publication


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Background and Objectives: Although home visiting programs have been documented to improve parenting in high-risk families, their effectiveness is diminished when parents disengage from programs. Cellular phones offer an approach to promoting parent engagement and enhancing parenting outcomes. Our objective was to examine whether mothers in a parenting intervention, Planned Activities Training (PAT), or cellular phone-enhanced version (CPAT) of the intervention would demonstrate greater use of parenting strategies after treatment and at 6 months post-treatment compared with a wait-list control (WLC).

Methods: A sample of 371 low-income mothers and their 3.5- to 5.5-year-old children were randomly assigned to condition and assessed at pre-test, post-intervention, and 6 months post-intervention. Treatment efficacy was evaluated through observations of mother-child interactions as well as maternal interviews about depression, parenting stress, and child behaviors.

Results: Mothers receiving PAT and CPAT demonstrated more frequent use of parenting strategies and engaged in more responsive parenting than mothers in the WLC. Mothers receiving CPAT used more PAT parenting strategies than mothers in the other 2 groups and experienced greater reductions in depression and stress. Children of mothers receiving PAT and CPAT demonstrated higher rates of positive engagement, and children of CPAT mothers demonstrated higher levels of adaptive behaviors than children in the WLC. Importantly, changes in parenting, depression, and stress predicted positive child behaviors.

Conclusions: PAT and CPAT conditions improved parenting strategies and child engagement and reduced children's challenging behaviors. The addition of cellular phones to a home visiting program enhanced maternal responsivity and reduced depression and stress. (author abstract)

Data Collection Methods

  • Parent-child observations
  • Site visits
  • Standardized assessment tools



For More Information

Carta, J.J., Lefever, J.B., Bigelow, K., Borowski, J., Warren, S.F. (2013) Randomized trial of a cellular phone-enhanced home visitation parenting intervention, Pediatrics, 132, 167-173.
doi: 10.1542/peds.2013-1021Q
Author contact information:
Judith Carta


  • Participant Characteristics
  • Participant, Family, and Program Outcomes
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  • Participant Recruitment, Retention, Engagement, and Dosage