Comparison of Multisystemic Therapy and Parent Training in the Brief Treatment of Child Abuse and Neglect


This study evaluated the relative efficacy of two promising treatments of child abuse and child neglect: parent training and multisystemic therapy. Subjects included 18 abusive families and 15 neglectful families who were randomly assigned to the treatment conditions. Self-report and observational measures were used to evaluate the effects of treatment at three levels that have been associated with child maltreatment: individual functioning, family relations, and stress/social support. Statistical analyses revealed that families who received either treatment showed decreased parental psychiatric symptomology, reduced overall stress, and a reduction in the severity of identified problems. Analyses of sequential observational measures revealed that multisystemic therapy was more effective than parent training at restructuring parent-child relations. Parent training was more effective than multisystemic therapy at reducing identified social problems. The differential influences of the two treatments were probably associated with differences in their respective treatment contexts and epistemologies. © 1987 American Psychological Association.

Publication Title

Journal of Consulting and Clinical Psychology