Graduation Year


Document Type

Ed. Specalist



Degree Granting Department

Psychological and Social Foundations

Major Professor

Linda M. Raffaele Mendez


challenging behaviors, education, externalizing behaviors, gender, internalizing behaviors, marital status


The purpose of this study was to investigate how levels of stress among caregivers beginning a behavioral parent training program are related to caregiver and child variables. Research questions were answered using archival data collected from 474 caregivers who participated in HOT DOCS, a behavioral parent training program, between January 2009 through July 2010. The three objectives of the study were to (a) examine caregivers' perceived stress in relation to caregiver demographic variables (i.e., gender, marital status, level of education); (b) examine caregivers' perceived stress in relation to child demographic variables (i.e., levels of externalizing and internalizing behavior and presence or absence of a diagnosis); and (c) determine how levels of caregiver stress were related to number of parent training sessions completed. Results showed that female caregivers beginning a behavioral parent training program have higher levels of perceived stress than their male counterparts. Additionally, caregivers with a higher level of education reported less stress than caregivers with less education. No differences were found among those of different marital statuses. With regard to child variables, parents' perceptions of their child's externalizing behavior, as measured by the Child Behavior Checklist (CBCL) Externalizing score, were a significant predictor of caregiver perceived stress, but internalizing behavior (also as measured by the CBCL) and presence/absence of a diagnosis were not. Perceived stress upon entering the behavioral parent training was not a significant predictor of number of sessions completed. Implications of the study for parent training for caregivers raising young children with challenging behaviors are discussed.