Date Approved


Date Posted


Degree Type

Open Access Dissertation

Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)

Department or School


Committee Member

Carol R. Freedman-Doan, Ph.D., Chair

Committee Member

Alida Westman, Ph.D.

Committee Member

Alissa Huth-Bocks, Ph.D.

Committee Member

Sylvia Norris Jones, Ph.D.


The behaviors associated with Oppositional Defiant Disorder and other disruptive behavior disorders constitute the most common reason for referral of young children to mental health services (Schuhmann, Durning, Eyberg, & Boggs, 1996). Parent-Child Interaction Therapy is an empirically supported treatment for such disorders. However, families are frequently unable to maximize their use of such treatments. Barriers to treatment participation prevent families from entering or staying in treatment. While most of the treatment effectiveness research has been conducted with Caucasian families, African American families and Caucasian families experience these barriers to different degrees, resulting in varying treatment adherence and unclear treatment effects for these populations. Cultural differences in parenting beliefs and behaviors may translate to differing perceptions of treatment relevance and therefore lower acceptability for African American families. This study contributes to the literature by investigating the acceptability of a specific, efficacious treatment for disruptive behavior in children and by qualitatively exploring mothers’ expectations, perceptions of barriers, and judgments of this treatment. Ninety-two participants were recruited from southeast and mid-Michigan. It was hypothesized that African American mothers would perceive CDI as less effective for their own and other children, have more negative judgments of CDI, and be less willing to participate in CDI than would Caucasian mothers, but that these relationships would be mediated by parenting styles. It was also hypothesized that parenting sense of competence and perceived influence over behavior would predict mothers’ willingness to participate in CDI and their expectations about the effectiveness of CDI in helping their own and other children, but that this relationship would be moderated by mothers’ parenting style.

Associations between parenting practices, parenting sense of competence, perceived influence, barriers to participation, and judgments of CDI were assessed through multiple regression analyses. Results indicate that annual income may be a better predictor of differences in parenting practices and that there were no differences between groups with regard to willingness to participate. Qualitative analyses identified threats to acceptability and potential facilitators of PCIT.