A randomized controlled trial of a proportionate universal parenting program delivery model (E-SEE Steps) to enhance child social-emotional wellbeing

Bywater, Tracey, Berry, Vashti, Blower, Sarah, Bursnall, Matthew, Cox, Edward, Mason-Jones, Amanda, McGilloway, Sinead, McKendrick, Kirsty, Mitchell, Siobhan et al (2022) A randomized controlled trial of a proportionate universal parenting program delivery model (E-SEE Steps) to enhance child social-emotional wellbeing. PLOS ONE, 17 (4). e0265200.

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Official URL: https://doi.org/10.1371/journal.pone.0265200


Background: Evidence for parenting programs to improve wellbeing in children under three is inconclusive. We investigated the fidelity, impact, and cost-effectiveness of two parenting programs delivered within a longitudinal proportionate delivery model (‘E-SEE Steps’). Methods: Eligible parents with a child ≤ 8 weeks were recruited into a parallel two-arm, assessor blinded, randomized controlled, community-based, trial with embedded economic and process evaluations. Post-baseline randomization applied a 5:1 (intervention-to-control) ratio, stratified by primary (child social-emotional wellbeing (ASQ:SE-2)) and key secondary (maternal depression (PHQ-9)) outcome scores, sex, and site. All intervention parents received the Incredible Years® Baby Book (IY-B), and were offered the targeted Infant (IY-I)/Toddler (IY-T) program if eligible, based on ASQ:SE-2/PHQ-9 scores. Control families received usual services. Fidelity data were analysed descriptively. Primary analysis applied intention to treat. Effectiveness analysis fitted a marginal model to outcome scores. Cost-effectiveness analysis involved Incremental Cost-Effectiveness Ratios (ICERs). Results: The target sample (N = 606) was not achieved; 341 mothers were randomized (285:56), 322 (94%) were retained to study end. Of those eligible for the IY-I (n = 101), and IY-T (n = 101) programs, 51 and 21 respectively, attended. Eight (of 14) groups met the 80% self-reported fidelity criteria. No significant differences between arms were found for adjusted mean difference scores; ASQ:SE-2 (3.02, 95% CI: -0.03, 6.08, p = 0.052), PHQ-9 (-0.61; 95% CI: -1.34, 0.12, p = 0.1). E-SEE Steps had higher costs, but improved mothers’ Health-related Quality of Life (0.031 Quality Adjusted Life Year (QALY) gain), ICER of £20,062 per QALY compared to control. Serious adverse events (n = 86) were unrelated to the intervention. Conclusions: E-SEE Steps was not effective, but was borderline cost-effective. The model was delivered with varying fidelity, with lower-than-expected IY-T uptake. Changes to delivery systems and the individual programs may be needed prior to future evaluation. Trial registration: International Standard Randomized Controlled Trial Number: ISRCTN11079129.

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