Evaluating a Companion Homework App for Parent-Child Interaction Therapy
Type of DegreePhD Dissertation
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The present study constituted a pilot evaluation of the Special Time Homework App, a smartphone application designed to serve as a companion tool for Parent-Child Interaction Therapy (PCIT) by facilitating the completion of daily at-home practice of the skills learned by parents in treatment. Specifically, the app provides push notification reminders to complete daily homework, times each practice session, conducts rudimentary Dyadic Parent-Child Interaction Coding System (DPICS) coding of the homework session, and allows PCIT therapists to remotely track their clients’ homework completion. Fourteen parents receiving services from an outpatient clinic were randomly assigned to receive standard PCIT or PCIT with the app. No significant differences in key treatment outcomes emerged between the app and no app conditions. Both parents and therapists noted that the app was easy to use, but expressed frustration related to technological limitations associated with the app. DPICS coding conducted by the app was largely inconsistent with that conducted by trained human coders. Exploratory analyses examining possible associations between pretreatment readiness, study condition, homework completion, and key treatment outcome variables did not yield significant results. Future research should draw upon lessons learned from the present study to refine and improve later iterations of the app.