BACKGROUND: Considering the high burden of disease of psychosocial problems in children and adolescents, early intervention regarding problem behaviour of young children is very important. The Preventive Child Healthcare (PCH) offers a good setting to detect such problem behaviour and to provide parenting support to the parents concerned. This paper aims to describe the design of an effectiveness study of a parenting programme for parents of children with mild psychosocial problems after an initial, evidence based screening in routine PCH. METHODS/DESIGN: The effects of the intervention will be studied in a randomised controlled trial. Prior to a routine PCH health examination, parents complete a screening questionnaire on psychosocial problems. Parents of children with increased but still subclinical levels of psychosocial problems will be assigned at random to the experimental group (Triple P, level 3) or to the control group (care as usual). Outcome measures, such as problem behaviour in the child and parenting behaviour, will be assessed before, directly after and 6 and 12 months after the intervention. DISCUSSION: Parenting support may be an effective intervention to reduce psychosocial problems in children but evidence-based parenting programmes that fit the needs of the PCH are not available as yet. Although the Triple P programme seems promising and suitable for a universal population approach, evidence on its effectiveness in routine PCH still lacks. TRIAL REGISTRATION: NTR1338
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