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Heeding the silent partner in the Parent-Child Relationship: A new agenda to translate research on children’s perspectives into practice

Lim, Mei’En (2017) Heeding the silent partner in the Parent-Child Relationship: A new agenda to translate research on children’s perspectives into practice. PhD thesis, Murdoch University.

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The parent-child relationship (PCR) lies at the heart of our life experiences and life outcomes. It has been suggested that we are on the cusp of a paradigm shift in our approach to understanding the nature and influence of this relationship, from the currently dominant adult-centric approach to one that includes children’s perspectives. This thesis takes a strategic, translational approach to identifying the work required to realise this shift and to establish an evidence base for clinical practice regarding the PCR and its investigation.

In response to identified deficits in the literature and obstacles to progress, several new conceptual and methodological tools were designed. These include: the Gap Analysis – Prospective framework, to facilitate evidence synthesis and to guide a new translational research agenda; the Developmental Research Participation Rubric (DRPR), translating developmental theories into guidelines for enabling the research participation of children of different ages; a Quality of Evidence Rating System, to evaluate diverse empirical methodologies against person-centred, developmentally-sensitive criteria; and a Developmental Interview Framework (DIF), to provide comprehensive, person-centred guidelines for engaging child informants.

Applying these tools to clinically relevant research into the PCR, the DRPR indicated middle childhood to be the point at which children are likely to be developmentally ready to be primary informants about their PCR. However, the voices of children were found to be missing from the PCR literature. Furthermore, there was no reliable empirical evidence base to guide interviewing children about familial relationships and other non-forensic, non-diagnostic topics. Consequently, the DIF was used to design and subsequently pilot a developmentally-sensitive interview methodology.

It is concluded that a prospective and systematic approach to clinical psychological research into (a) the PCR and (b) interview methodology is both necessary and possible, by flexible use of mixed methods. Both bodies of work will contribute to evidence-based practice with children.

Item Type: Thesis (PhD)
Murdoch Affiliation(s): School of Psychology and Exercise Science
Supervisor(s): Reid, Corinne and Davis, Helen
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