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BACKGROUND: Behaviour problems emerge early in childhood and place children at risk for later psychopathology. OBJECTIVES: To evaluate the clinical effectiveness and cost-effectiveness of a parenting intervention to prevent enduring behaviour problems in young children. DESIGN: A pragmatic, assessor-blinded, multisite, two-arm, parallel-group randomised controlled trial. SETTING: Health visiting services in six NHS trusts in England. PARTICIPANTS: A total of 300 at-risk children aged 12-36 months and their parents/caregivers. INTERVENTIONS: Families were allocated in a 1 : 1 ratio to six sessions of Video-feedback Intervention to promote Positive Parenting and Sensitive Discipline (VIPP-SD) plus usual care or usual care alone. MAIN OUTCOME MEASURES: The primary outcome was the Preschool Parental Account of Children's Symptoms, which is a structured interview of behaviour symptoms. Secondary outcomes included caregiver-reported total problems on the Child Behaviour Checklist and the Strengths and Difficulties Questionnaire. The intervention effect was estimated using linear regression. Health and social care service use was recorded using the Child and Adolescent Service Use Schedule and cost-effectiveness was explored using the Preschool Parental Account of Children's Symptoms. RESULTS: In total, 300 families were randomised: 151 to VIPP-SD plus usual care and 149 to usual care alone. Follow-up data were available for 286 (VIPP-SD, n = 140; usual care, n = 146) participants and 282 (VIPP-SD, n = 140; usual care, n = 142) participants at 5 and 24 months, respectively. At the post-treatment (primary outcome) follow-up, a group difference of 2.03 on Preschool Parental Account of Children's Symptoms (95% confidence interval 0.06 to 4.01; p = 0.04) indicated a positive treatment effect on behaviour problems (Cohen's d = 0.20, 95% confidence interval 0.01 to 0.40). The effect was strongest for children's conduct [1.61, 95% confidence interval 0.44 to 2.78; p = 0.007 (d = 0.30, 95% confidence interval 0.08 to 0.51)] versus attention deficit hyperactivity disorder symptoms [0.29, 95% confidence interval -1.06 to 1.65; p = 0.67 (d = 0.05, 95% confidence interval -0.17 to 0.27)]. The Child Behaviour Checklist [3.24, 95% confidence interval -0.06 to 6.54; p = 0.05 (d = 0.15, 95% confidence interval 0.00 to 0.31)] and the Strengths and Difficulties Questionnaire [0.93, 95% confidence interval -0.03 to 1.9; p = 0.06 (d = 0.18, 95% confidence interval -0.01 to 0.36)] demonstrated similar positive treatment effects to those found for the Preschool Parental Account of Children's Symptoms. At 24 months, the group difference on the Preschool Parental Account of Children's Symptoms was 1.73 [95% confidence interval -0.24 to 3.71; p = 0.08 (d = 0.17, 95% confidence interval -0.02 to 0.37)]; the effect remained strongest for conduct [1.07, 95% confidence interval -0.06 to 2.20; p = 0.06 (d = 0.20, 95% confidence interval -0.01 to 0.42)] versus attention deficit hyperactivity disorder symptoms [0.62, 95% confidence interval -0.60 to 1.84; p = 0.32 (d = 0.10, 95% confidence interval -0.10 to 0.30)], with little evidence of an effect on the Child Behaviour Checklist and the Strengths and Difficulties Questionnaire. The primary economic analysis showed better outcomes in the VIPP-SD group at 24 months, but also higher costs than the usual-care group (adjusted mean difference £1450, 95% confidence interval £619 to £2281). No treatment- or trial-related adverse events were reported. The probability of VIPP-SD being cost-effective compared with usual care at the 24-month follow-up increased as willingness to pay for improvements on the Preschool Parental Account of Children's Symptoms increased, with VIPP-SD having the higher probability of being cost-effective at willingness-to-pay values above £800 per 1-point improvement on the Preschool Parental Account of Children's Symptoms. LIMITATIONS: The proportion of participants with graduate-level qualifications was higher than among the general public. CONCLUSIONS: VIPP-SD is effective in reducing behaviour problems in young children when delivered by health visiting teams. Most of the effect of VIPP-SD appears to be retained over 24 months. However, we can be less certain about its value for money. TRIAL REGISTRATION: Current Controlled Trials ISRCTN58327365. FUNDING: This project was funded by the National Institute for Health Research (NIHR) Health Technology Assessment programme and will be published in full in Health Technology Assessment; Vol. 25, No. 29. See the NIHR Journals Library website for further project information.

Original publication

DOI

10.3310/hta25290

Type

Journal article

Journal

Health Technol Assess

Publication Date

05/2021

Volume

25

Pages

1 - 84

Keywords

BEHAVIOUR PROBLEMS, EARLY INTERVENTION, HEALTH VISITING, PARENTING