Prevention Science [PREV] pp575-prev-378530 August 24, 2002 12:31 Style ﬁle version Nov. 04, 2000
Prevention Science, Vol. 3, No. 3, September 2002 (
Cultural Sensitivity and Adaptation in Family-Based
Karol L. Kumpfer,
Because of the substantial impact of families on the developmental trajectories of children,
family interventions should be a critical ingredient in comprehensive prevention programs.
Very few family interventions have been adapted to be culturally sensitive for different ethnic
groups. This paper examines the research literature on whether culturally adapting family
interventions improves retention and outcome effectiveness. Because of limited research on
the topic, the prevention research ﬁeld is divided on the issue. Factors to consider for cul-
tural adaptations of family-focused prevention are presented. Five research studies testing the
effectiveness of the generic version of the Strengthening Families Program (SFP) compared
to culturally-adapted versions for African Americans, Hispanic, Asian/Paciﬁc Islander, and
American Indian families suggest that cultural adaptations made by practitioners that reduce
dosage or eliminate critical core content can increase retention by up to 40%, but reduce
positive outcomes. Recommendations include the need for additional research on culturally-
sensitive family interventions.
KEY WORDS: cultural issues; parent training; family therapy; substance abuse prevention; outcome
Strong families and wise parents are key to rais-
ing pro-social, socially competent, and healthy chil-
dren. Family strengthening interventions, which teach
parents skills to effectively praise, supervise, disci-
pline, and communicate with their children, are a crit-
ical ingredient in any effective approach to the pre-
vention of youth problems including substance abuse.
Most drug prevention programs are delivered to
Department of Health Promotion and Education, University of
Utah, Salt Lake City, Utah.
Department of Family and Consumer Studies, University of Utah,
Salt Lake City, Utah.
Center for Substance Abuse Prevention, Division of Knowledge
Development and Evaluation, Rockville, Maryland.
Correspondence should be directed to Karol L. Kumpfer, PhD,
Associate Professor, Department of Health Promotion and Edu-
cation, University of Utah, 1850 East 250 South, Salt Lake City,
Utah 84112; e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org.
Dr. Karol Kumpfer developed the Strengthening Families Pro-
gram. The program materials are disseminated by the University
of Utah. Her husband, Dr. Henry Whiteside, conducts training for
the program through his company, LutraGroup.
children in schools or community youth groups and do
not involve parents or family members. In our expe-
rience, ethnic families and staff prefer family-focused
rather than youth-only focused prevention services.
Mock (2001) believes that family interventions are
popular with traditional ethnic families because of
their collective “we” family identity as opposed to an
individual “I” self-identity, which is stressed in many
Western cultures. According to Boyd-Franklin (2001),
family interventions are more culturally-appropriate
for ethnic families than individualistic intervention
Unfortunately, even when family programs are
offered in schools and communities, ethnic families
are often difﬁcult to recruit and retain, particularly
if the program is not culturally appropriate. For in-
stance, generic universal parenting programs attract
only about 33% of parents when offered in schools
(Weinberger et al., 1990). That ﬁgure drops to 20–
25% if families are asked to participate in research
(Coie et al., 1991) and as low as 10% for ethnic fami-
lies (Biglan & Metzler, 1999).
2002 Society for Prevention Research