Research and Outcomes

How was ADAPT developed?

Research behind ADAPT

The ADAPT research team, led by Dr. Abigail Gewirtz, has tested the effectiveness of the ADAPT program with more than one thousand military families, including National Guard and Reserve families in Minnesota and Michigan, and Active Duty families in North Carolina, Virginia, and Kentucky. The team has published a significant body of work on the topic and continues to investigate how the program can improve the lives of military families.

Key findings thus far

PTSD symptoms play a significant role in the post-deployment period for National Guard and Reserve families, negatively impacting parenting behaviors and child adjustment.

Compared to the control group, families who were invited to participate in the ADAPT intervention (first effectiveness study) showed:

  • improved observed parenting
  • more effective responses to children's negative emotions
  • improved self-efficacy (feeling more able to positively influence their children’s behavior) and reported
  • reductions in children’s behavior, emotional problems, peer problems, and risk of substance use (also reported by teachers and children themselves)

Improvements in self-efficacy of parents as a result of the program led to reductions in:

  • depression
  • PTSD symptoms
  • thoughts of suicide

Some parents at high risk for difficulties showed other benefits. For example, ADAPT resulted in greatly lowered rates of alcohol use among combat deployed fathers with a genetic vulnerability linked to alcohol abuse. Similarly, fathers with certain types of symptoms such as experiential avoidance or difficulties in inhibitory control (often related to PTSD and TBI symptoms) particularly benefited from ADAPT, showing improvements in parenting relative to lower risk fathers.

Using ADAPT

  • Parents reported high satisfaction for all sessions of the program
  • Mothers and fathers were equally likely to attend in-person groups; mothers were more likely to access online content
  • When facilitators had a military background, parents were more likely to engage with the program
  • Parents who attended at least 3 sessions tended to complete most of the program

Demographics of the first effectiveness study

  • 336 families with at least 1 deployed parent to Iraq/Afghanistan since 2001
  • Army National Guard (59%); Air National Guard (10.7%); Army (12.9%); Navy (6.6%); Air Force (2.8%); Marine Reserves (0.3%)
  • 95% had a deployed father; 18% had a deployed mother; 13% had two parents deployed
  • 51% of parents deployed more than once; 58% deployed more than one year
  • PTSD: 16% of fathers and 6% of mothers reported clinical level PTSD symptoms
  • Suicidality: 7% of fathers and 2% of mothers reported suicidal ideation
  • Average:
  • Age of parents: 36.5
  • Age of children: 7.5
  • # of children: 2.3

Continued research

Comparing Web, Group, and Tele-health Formats of a Military Parenting Program (ADAPT4U): This study with 360 military families in Minnesota and Michigan compares the effectiveness of three different delivery formats for ADAPT: in-person groups, telehealth (video conferencing), and through an online video curriculum. The study was funded by the U.S. Department of Defense. This study is currently in the data analysis phase.

SMART optimization of a parenting program for active-duty families: Using an innovative study design known as SMART (sequential, multiple assignment, randomized trial), this study with 525 active duty military families uses personalization techniques to test multiple formats, “doses” and sequences of the ADAPT program. Active duty families were recruited from Fort Bragg, NC, Fort Campbell, KY and Fort Belvoir/Joint Base Myer-Henderson Hall, VA. This study is closed to recruitment and is funded by the U.S. Department of Defense. 

Stress Wearables: A study on parenting and stress reduction: This study uses a wrist-based device to monitor the real time stress of frontline healthcare professionals (or their partners) working in COVID environments who are also parenting a 4-13 year old. Researchers seek to understand how new mobile digital technologies have the potential to help families measure and manage this stress. This study is closed and under data analysis.

See more research details

Click through to see our team’s full list of publications. You can also contact us if you would like to cite our work.