RCT of parent-based models of speech and language therapy

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 8-10 families per group receive 10 sessions over a 20-week period, delivered by a speech and language therapist. 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 amongst 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 crèche, and attendance reminders before each group session.

As part of the trial, 160 disadvantaged families whose 2-3 year-olds has 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. If EPBI groups prove beneficial then their 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.

Project details



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

Funding programme:

Early Years Education and Childcare

Grant amount and duration:


April 2017 - March 2021