Predictors of consent in a randomized field study in child welfare

Tom McDonald, Jackie Bhattarai, Becci Akin

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

1 Scopus citations


Purpose: Randomized controlled trials (RCTs) are often viewed as the “gold standard” for proving the efficacy and effectiveness of new interventions. However, some are skeptical of the generalizability of the findings that RCTs produce. The characteristics of those willing to participate in research studies have the potential to affect the generalizability of its findings. This study examined factors that could influence consent among families recruited to participate in a randomized field trial in a real-world child welfare setting. Methods: This study tested the Parent Management Training Oregon Model for children in foster care with serious emotional disturbance. It employed a post-randomization consent design, whereby the entire sample of eligible participants, not just those who are willing to consent to randomization, are included in the sample. Initial eligibility assessment data and data from the federally mandated reporting system for public child welfare agencies provided the pool of potential predictors of consent. Bivariate and multivariate analyses were conducted to identify statistically significant predictors of consent. Results: Being a dual reunification family was the most significant factor in predicting consent. Unmarried individuals, younger, female parents, cases where parental incarceration was the reason for removal and cases where the removal reason was not due to their children’s behavioral problem(s) were also more likely to participate. Discussion: As one of the first research studies to examine predictors of consent to a randomized field study in child welfare settings, results presented here can act as a preliminary guide for conducting RCTs in child welfare settings.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)243-265
Number of pages23
JournalJournal of Evidence-Informed Social Work
Issue number4
StatePublished - 2017
Externally publishedYes


  • Child welfare
  • Consent
  • Randomized controlled trial
  • Research supported intervention

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Health(social science)
  • Social Psychology
  • Sociology and Political Science


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