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Formative trial of a video to promote father-child communication about drugs

It is widely recognised that most health-related behaviours are adopted during childhood and adolescence. While schools provide a logical setting for health education for young people, it is clear that parents should also be targeted with information and skills. Parents provide primary role models for children and thus play a significant role in the development of children’s knowledge, attitudes and behaviours regarding health-related behaviours. However, a considerable amount of parent interventions involve mothers as the predominant participants and respondents. Evidence suggests the involvement of significant family members, in addition to mothers – in particular fathers – in the drug education of their children can positively influence the drug use behaviour of their children. Further, parent/father health education programs need to start early so that by the time children are exposed to risks to their health, they have an open and trusting relationship and communication strategies are well established.

In 2004, the Child Health Promotion Research Centre (CHPRC) was contracted by Professor Bruce Robinson, on behalf of the University of Western Australia, to test the use and effectiveness of video as a mode of intervention to actively engage fathers/father figures in the lives of their children. Specifically, the objectives of the CHPRCs role in the evaluation were to:

  • trial the pilot DVD and accompanying materials with fathers of 11-13 year old children; and
  • assess the use and satisfaction of the DVD and accompanying support materials for fathers of 11-13 year old children.

This was achieved through a literature review, targeting literature published up to 2004, and focus group interviews with fathers and father figures of children and young people. The aims of the interview were to obtain feedback regarding the DVD, ‘Being a Father’ and accompanying support material, and to explore fathers and father figures attitudes, opinions and suggestions to ensure the most acceptable strategies and methods are used to engage fathers and father figures.

The DVD entitled ‘Being a Father’ and accompanying booklet were tested with 35 fathers and father figures of young children through the use of interviews. The majority of interviews were conducted individually, with one formal focus group of nine fathers/father figures conducted. While the DVD and booklet were overall well-received, several recommendations for the improvement of these resources were made, including: modifying the DVD to include a broader range of fathers from different age groups, cultural and social backgrounds; providing advice on conflict resolution; and consistently reinforcing the messages from credible experts. The booklet received positive feedback with suggestions made to modify the format and content, including greater referral to other sources of information.

Project duration


Funding body

Department of Education and Training


The University of Western Australia, Professor Bruce Robinson
Professor Donna Cross

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