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Analyzing the Utility of Dyadic Parent-Child Interaction Coding System (DPICS) Warm-Up Segments




Thornberry, Timothy, Jr.

Type of Degree





Analogue behavioral observations are an important component of multimodal, multi-informant assessments. One observation system developed specifically for use with Parent-Child Interaction Therapy (PCIT), an empirically-supported treatment for families of children with conduct problems, is the Dyadic Parent-Child Interaction Coding System, now in its third edition (DPICS-III). Although the DPICS has undergone several revisions and is backed by a substantial knowledge base, more research is needed to bolster its utility. One topic in need of empirical investigation relates to the usefulness of the warm-up (WU) segments integrated throughout the structured DPICS observation. Although these segments were initially introduced to improve the representativeness of observational data collected in subsequent segments, this purported benefit has not been empirically investigated. This study analyzed the contribution of including WU segments in DPICS observations by comparing mean parent and child behavioral composites of frequency counts obtained from pre- and post-treatment DPICS WU and typically-coded (TC) segments. No significant differences were found between WU and TC segments at pre- or post-treatment observations. The implications of these findings are discussed. This study is limited by its use of a small, archival sample and low base rates for certain child behaviors. Future studies should focus on establishing test-retest reliability of the DPICS and developing training aids to facilitate the dissemination of the DPICS and PCIT into community settings.