THE POSITIVE FAMILIES PROGRAM: EXPLORING THE IMPACT OF A FAMILY ORIENTED MEDIA-BASED PROGRAM IN THE ARAB WORLD
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Families in the Arab world are rapidly changing and facing unprecedented political, social and health-related challenges, affecting the way families function and interact. However, few programs are implemented in the region to address family functioning and tackle these challenges. This study used evaluative data collected during the implementation of the Positive Families program to explore the impact and characterize the reach of the program to its intended audience in the Arab world. The study employed before and after design, with the intervention group being tested before and after the program implementation. The Positive Families program is a media-based program that was implemented in 2009-2010 to promote the well- being of Arab families. Both mass media and social media platforms were incorporated in the program; the program's talk show was aired on television, while the website was used for participation and discussions. Contests and financial incentives were used to encourage participation in the program. Almost 30,000 individuals registered for the program from 87 Arab and non-Arab countries. For the purposes of this study, participants who registered but did not complete baseline measures of family function or program activities (n = 29,891) were termed minimally engaged; those who completed baseline family functioning questionnaires but did not complete all program activities (n = 1,530) were termed partially engaged and those who engaged in all program activities and completed both baseline and follow up family functioning assessment (n = 381) were termed fully engaged participants. Differences in demographics and family functioning measures were found among these groups. Partially engaged participants reported higher baseline family functioning levels (M=29.5, SD=8.3) in comparison to fully engaged participants (M=28.3, SD=9.8; p=0.03). Fully engaged participants scored higher in post program questionnaire (M = 38.5, SD=10.5) as oppose to the baseline questionnaire (M = 28.3) with a mean difference of 10.2 (p < .001). There was no evidence that participants’ demographic characteristics influenced program impact. These findings suggest that a positive family functioning program presented within a platform that combines social and mass media channels, is widely viewed and appears to be an acceptable vehicle for delivering culturally appropriate and relevant information to Arab viewers. The model is a promising vehicle for public health interventions designed to increase positive family functioning while addressing sensitive issues regarding family dynamics including child rearing, discipline and gender relationships. More studies are needed to evaluate and report family focused interventions in the Arab world.
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