Different Strokes for Different Folks? Contrasting Approaches to Cultural Adaptation of Parenting Interventions

Mejia, A., Leijten, P., Lachman, J. M., & Parra-Cardona, J. R


Relevant achievements have been accomplished in prevention science with regard to disseminating efficacious parenting interventions among underserved populations. However, widespread disparities in availability of parenting services continue to negatively impact diverse populations in high-income countries (e.g., the USA) and low- and middle-income countries. As a result, a scholarly debate on cultural adaptation has evolved over the years. Specifically, some scholars have argued that in diverse cultural contexts, existing evidence-based parenting interventions should be delivered with strict fidelity to ensure effectiveness. Others have emphasized the need for cultural adaptations of interventions when disseminated among diverse populations. In this paper, we propose that discussions on cultural adaptation should be conceptualized as a "both-and," rather than an "either-or" process. To justify this stance, we describe three distinct parenting intervention projects to illustrate how cultural adaptation and efficacy of evidence-based interventions can be achieved using contrasting approaches and frameworks, depending on cultural preferences and available resources of local contexts. Further, we suggest the need to develop guidelines for consistent reporting of cultural adaptation procedures as a critical component of future investigations. This discussion is relevant for the broader public health field and prevention science.

Keywords: Cultural adaptation; Ethnic minorities; Health disparities; Low- and middle-income countries; Parenting interventions.