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RCT of parent-based models of speech and language therapy

Researchers: Dr Deborah Gibbard | Professor Sue Roulstone ...

Project overview

Throughout England, clinically diagnosed early language delay among 2-3 year old children is supported by parent-based intervention (PBI). This intervention is a group-based programme, where eight to 10 families per group receive 10 sessions, delivered by a speech and language therapist over a 20-week period. It is designed to teach parents how to develop their child’s language at home and has been shown to be broadly effective. However, in areas of social disadvantage, recruitment and retention of parents can be a challenge and this limits the intervention’s success among disadvantaged families. This project therefore aims to conduct a randomised controlled trial (RCT) to evaluate an enhanced parent-based intervention (EPBI), which includes additional elements aimed at increasing parental engagement in disadvantaged areas. These enhancements include: an initial home visit by a Children’s Centre teacher, an offer of ten drop-in sessions with a Children’s Centre teacher, a creche, and attendance reminders before each group session.

As part of the trial, 160 disadvantaged families whose 2-3 year olds had been clinically diagnosed with early language delay will be randomly assigned to receive either the enhanced or standard intervention. Data on children’s language levels will be collected prior to the intervention, immediately afterwards and six months later in order to assess the relative effects of the two interventions. Should EPBI groups prove beneficial, implementation will be valuable for this population, given the long-lasting effects of children’s language delay on other outcomes (such as education, social behaviour and employment).


  • Dr Deborah Gibbard
    Solent NHS Trust
  • Professor Sue Roulstone
    University of West of England
  • Dr Chris Markham
    University of Portsmouth
  • Dr Clare Smith
    Solent NHS Trust

  • Programme Head, Education
    Nuffield Foundation
  • Director, Education
    Nuffield Foundation

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We aim to improve people’s lives by funding research that informs social policy, primarily in Education, Welfare and Justice. We also fund student programmes that give young people skills and confidence in science and research.

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