Condition category
Not Applicable
Date applied
Date assigned
Last edited
Retrospectively registered
Overall trial status
Recruitment status

Plain English Summary

Background and study aims
Research in Canada shows that many parents accept and use physical punishment with their children. Using physical punishment can be a risk factor for children. It has been linked with problems like physical aggression and strained parent-child relationships. The Positive Discipline in Everyday Parenting (PDEP) is a group program for parents that focuses on decreasing parents’ use of physical punishment and increasing non-violent discipline. Preliminary findings show that PDEP can help to reduce parents’ use of physical and emotional punishment and to improve parent-child relationships. PDEP also seems to work with different cultures and in different countries. Our study wishes understand the effects of the PDEP program using a more rigorous research approach. This will allow us to make stronger conclusions about whether PDEP works to change the way parents think about discipline and the discipline strategies they use.

Parents who have a child aged 2-6 and are able to communicate in English

What does the study involve?
There will be 2 groups of parents - those who will participate in the first PDEP group, and those who will be on a waiting list to participate in PDEP once the first is completed. Parents will be randomly allocated to one of these groups. Whilst the first PDEP program takes place, parents in both groups will complete study questionnaires. These questionnaires will be completed at the start and end of the first PDEP program, and 1 and 3 months afterwards. We will also collect information from all parents by asking them questions after they watch short video clips of parents and children that are about discipline. This will be completed at the same timepoints as the questionnaires. The PDEP program will involve identifying long-term parenting goals, understand how children think and feel, and responding with positive discipline.
At the end of the first PDEP program, parents who were in this group may be asked to take part in an interview to hear about what they found helpful and if they have any suggestions for improvements.
Once the second PDEP program begins, we will not be collecting any more information or data.

What are the possible benefits and risks of participating?
The possible benefit to parents taking part in this program is the opportunity to learn new ways of parenting that do not involve punishment and can help to strengthen their relationship with their child. There are no major risks to parents taking part in this program, other than that they may feel tired from completing questionnaires, watching video clips and participating in an interview. Additionally, some questions in the questionnaires might make them feel a little uncomfortable, as they ask about parenting and their child's behaviour.

Where is the study run from?
University of Ottawa (Canada) and 9 child and family centres in Ottawa and surrounding areas, and 1 centre in southern Ontario (Canada)

When is the study starting and how long is it expected to run for?
March 2017 to March 2022

Who is funding the study?
Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada (Canada)

Who is the main contact?
Dr. Elisa Romano, Ph.D., C.Psych.

Trial website

Contact information



Primary contact

Dr Elisa Romano


Contact details

School of Psychology
University of Ottawa
136 Jean-Jacques Lussier
Vanier Pavillion
K1N 6N5
613-562-5800 ext. 4403

Additional identifiers

EudraCT number number

Protocol/serial number


Study information

Scientific title

The Positive Discipline in Everyday Parenting (PDEP) program for community-based parents: a randomized controlled trial to examine parenting behaviours, stress, emotion regulation, problem solving and discipline attitudes, along with child behaviours


PDEP Study

Study hypothesis

1. Compared to the wait-list group, parents who complete the PDEP program (in the experimental group) will report significantly greater use of non-punitive parenting behaviours, less favourable attitudes toward physical punishment, less stress, better emotion regulation, better problem solving, and fewer child behaviour problems.
2. These gains for the PDEP parents in the experimental group will be maintained at 1 and 3 month follow-up.

Ethics approval

University of Ottawa Office of Research Ethics and Integrity, 04/07/2018, File Number H-05-18-630

Study design

Interventional multi-centre randomised controlled trial

Primary study design


Secondary study design

Randomised controlled trial

Trial setting


Trial type


Patient information sheet

Not available in web format, please use contact details to request a participant information sheet


Parenting behaviours
Parenting attitudes toward physical punishment
Parenting skills (stress, emotion regulation, problem solving)
Child behaviours


Parents will be randomly assigned to participate in the PDEP program (experimental group) or a wait-list condition (where they will participate in the PDEP program once the experimental group has been completed).
PDEP was developed with the aim of preventing violence against children. It is a universal group program for parents of children newborn to 18 years that focuses on helping parents shift away from rewards and punishments towards problem solving and communication. There are 8 2-hour sessions for parents, and group sizes may vary from 5 to 20 parents. Trained PDEP facilitators deliver the program through community-based centres. The sessions will involve identification of long-term parenting goals, providing warmth and structure, understanding how children think and feel at different ages, and problem solving and responding with positive discipline.
For the research design, approximately 2-3 weeks prior to the start of the first PDEP group within an agency, all parents who provided verbal consent will be contacted by the researchers to invite them to complete a questionnaire package (after providing written consent). After parents have completed the self-report questionnaires and prior to the start of the first PDEP group, parents will be contacted by the researchers and informed of their assignment to either this first PDEP group (experimental group) or the wait-list condition. We will randomly assign parents to either the first or second PDEP group by way of a random numbers table. We will use this randomization strategy each time that PDEP is offered. For example, if PDEP were offered in the fall of 2018 in one agency and 20 parents had expressed an interest in the research study, we would randomly assign 10 parents to PDEP and 10 to the wait-list group.
Parents who are randomly assigned to the first PDEP group will complete the 8-week program. Within 1 week of the program ending, all parents (those who just completed PDEP and those on the wait-list) will be invited the complete the questionnaire package for a second time. All parents will again be asked to complete the questionnaire for a third time approximately 1 month after completion of the first PDEP group. The questionnaire package will be completed for a fourth time approximately 3 months after completion of the first PDEP group, but it should be noted that this will only occur for parents who completed the program because those on the wait-list will have begun their PDEP program by this point in time so as to avoid any further delays in receiving services.
In addition to the parent self-report questionnaires, we also intend to use an analogue measure (video clips of parent-child interactions) for a subset of parents (starting in the second year of data collection). The procedure for administering this measure will follow that of the questionnaires, namely prior to the start of the first PDEP program and then again at post-PDEP as well as at 1 and 3 month follow-up.

Intervention type



Drug names

Primary outcome measure

Unless specified, the following measures are assessed at the baseline, at the end of the intervention, and 1 and 3 months after the end of the intervention
1. Socio-demographics, assessed by patient self-report at the baseline
2. Approval of physical and non-physical punishment, assessed using the PDEP Questionnaire
3. Subjective developmental norms, assessed using the PDEP Questionnaire
4. Parenting self-efficacy, assessed using the PDEP Questionnaire
5. Use of various disciplinary strategies, assessed using the PDEP Questionnaire
6. Attitudes towards spanking, assessed using the Attitudes Towards Spanking (ATS) Scale
7. Parenting stress, assessed using the Parenting Daily Hassles (PDH) Scale
8. Emotion regulation, assessed using the Difficulties in Emotion Regulation Scale (DERS)
9. Problem solving, assessed using the Personal Problem Solving Inventory
10. Child behaviours, assessed using the Strengths and Difficulties Questionnaire (SDQ)
11. Parenting discipline attitudes, assessed through questioning parents after watching video clips of parent-child interactions

Secondary outcome measures

Parent satisfaction with the intervention, assessed using an interview with a subset of randomly selected parents at the end of the intervention. This interview will explore their experience with the PDEP program, including what was and was not helpful, the changes they experienced in their parenting attitudes, behaviours and skills, and what they attributed the changes to.

Overall trial start date


Overall trial end date


Reason abandoned (if study stopped)


Participant inclusion criteria

Carers (parents) who:
1. Have a child aged 2-6 years
2. Feel comfortable with the English language
3. Are not completing any other parenting program while they are completing PDEP (or while they are waiting to complete PDEP should they be assigned to the wait-list condition)

Participant type


Age group




Target number of participants

Across our collaborating agencies and over the study's 3-year duration, we anticipate reaching a minimum sample of 200 parents, with approximately equal numbers in the first PDEP group that is offered in a given year and in the second group (wait-list)

Participant exclusion criteria


Recruitment start date


Recruitment end date



Countries of recruitment


Trial participating centre

Arnprior Family Preschool Resource Centre - EarlyON Centre
16 Edward St. S Suite 130
K7S 3W4

Trial participating centre

Lowertown Community Resource Centre
80 Cobourg St.
K1N 8Z6

Trial participating centre

Orleans-Cumberland Community Resource Centre - EarlyON Centre
105-240 boul. Centrum Blvd.
K1E 3J4

Trial participating centre

EarlyON Child & Family Centre - Pembroke
464 Isabella Street
K8A 0A4

Trial participating centre

Mothercraft Ottawa
475 Evered Ave.
K1Z 5K9

Trial participating centre

Haldimand Norfolk R.E.A.C.H.
101 Nanticoke Creek Parkway
N0A 1S0

Trial participating centre

Vanier Community Severe Centre
290 Depuis St.
K1L 1A2

Trial participating centre

Community Resource Centre - Killaloe
15 Lake Street
K0J 2A0

Trial participating centre

Pinecreast Queensway Community Health Centre
1365 Richmond Road
K2B 6R7

Sponsor information


University of Ottawa

Sponsor details

75 Laurier Avenue East
K1N 6N5

Sponsor type




Funder type

Not defined

Funder name

Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada

Alternative name(s)

Conseil de recherches en sciences humaines du Canada, SSHRC

Funding Body Type


Funding Body Subtype


Results and Publications

Publication and dissemination plan

We plan to disseminate our findings to academic audiences by way of presentations at national and international conferences and also by way of publications in peer-reviewed journals. We will also disseminate our findings to non-academic audiences, such as the agencies with whom we are collaborating on this project and other community-based agencies that work with families. Dissemination activities will most likely occur toward the end of the project's duration once all data have been collected and analyzed. We intend to present data from the parent self-report measures (pre- and post-program as well as follow-up), the analogue measures (pre- and post-program as well as follow-up), and the parent interviews (post-program).

IPD sharing statement:
The datasets generated during and/or analysed during the current study may be available should there be any joint research projects with researchers in other settings.

Intention to publish date


Participant level data

Available on request

Basic results (scientific)

Publication list

Publication citations

Additional files

Editorial Notes

27/04/2020: Due to current public health guidance, recruitment for this study has been paused.