Universal parent support groups for parents of adolescents: Which parents participate and why?


Leader-led parent support groups, offered universally to parents of adolescents, are increasingly common, yet little is known of the parents who use this support. The study presented here explored the characteristics of parents of 10- to 17-year-olds (N = 192) who had enlisted in universal support groups and their reasons for enrollment. Sociodemographic factors (parents’ country of origin, educational level, long-term sick-leave or unemployment, and marital status) were compared to the general population (Statistics Sweden, ) and parents’ psychological health and children’s psychiatric symptoms were compared to a control group (the BITA study). Results showed that support group parents reported more psychosocial difficulties, such as higher frequency of long-term sick-leave or unemployment, more symptoms of anxiety and depression and more psychiatric symptoms in their children than parents in general. While about a fifth of the parents had problem-oriented (targeted) reasons for enrollment, most parents had general (universal) reasons. Thus, the universal approach does seem to reach its intended recipients.