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A Brief Intervention May Affect Parents' Attitudes Toward Using Less Physical Punishment

Scholer, Seth J. MD, MPH; Hamilton, Emma C. BA; Johnson, Melissa C. BA; Scott, Theresa A. MS

doi: 10.1097/FCH.0b013e3181d592ef

Ninety-six parents in a preschool and pediatric clinic participated in a randomized study of a brief parenting intervention. The Attitudes Toward Spanking (ATS) scale was measured at baseline, and, on average, 4 months postintervention. Higher ATS scores are correlated with increased use of physical punishment. In the intervention group, there was a 2.7-point decrease in the ATS score at follow-up compared with baseline (P = 0.01). There was no decrease in the ATS in the control group. Brief interventions may shift parental attitudes toward using less physical punishment and have implications for improving anticipatory guidance within primary care and early education.

Department of Pediatrics and the Monroe Carell Jr Children's Hospital at Vanderbilt (Dr Scholer), the School of Medicine (Mss Hamilton and Johnson), and the Department of Biostatistics (Ms Scott), Vanderbilt University, Nashville, Tennessee.

Corresponding Author: Seth J. Scholer, MD, MPH, Department of Pediatrics and the Monroe Carell Jr Children's Hospital at Vanderbilt, Vanderbilt University, Nashville, TN 37232 (

For their participation in the study, the authors thank Melba Marcrum, the staff, and parents at the McNeilly Center for Children in Nashville, Tennessee. The authors are grateful to Dr George W. Holden for permitting them to use the ATS scale. Funding for the research was provided by the Scholarly Activities Fund, Division of General Pediatrics, Monroe Carell Jr. Children's Hospital at Vanderbilt. The authors also thank Brian Connatser for his work as the software engineer for the Play Nicely program.

© 2010 Lippincott Williams & Wilkins, Inc.