Improving parental practice - Evidence, impact and evaluation At a glance

We know that the Video Interaction Guidance and the Positive Parenting Programme (Pathways Triple P) are effective, but we wanted to find out whether they improve outcomes for children who have been neglected. So, we conducted an evaluation looking specifically at this area. Our evaluations of Positive Parenting Programme (Triple P) and Video Interaction Guidance (VIG) are the first of their kind in the UK.

How neglect affects children

Neglect is the most common form of child abuse and the most common reason for taking child protection action in the UK. It can have long-lasting effects including mental health problems; poor physical, emotional and social development; behavioural problems; and low self-esteem.

It can be challenging for professionals to identify, measure and monitor neglect (Gardner, 2008). This can make it hard for decisions to be made about a child's future care.

How Video Interaction Guidance and the Positive Parenting Programme are helping prevent abuse and neglect

Video Interaction Guidance (VIG) is based on the principle of self-modelling (Dorwick, 1999) by allowing parents to watch themselves behaving in a positive way.

Video Interaction Guidance was developed in the Netherlands in the 1980s by Harrie Biemans and colleagues. It was adapted and brought to the UK by Hilary Kennedy at Dundee University. It is widely used in Scotland.

Research has shown that Video Interaction Guidance is effective at changing behaviour and attitudes (Fukkink, 2008) and reaching parents who are not motivated to change (Chaffin et al., 2009).

Pathways Triple P draws on cognitive behavioural and development theory. It aims to show parents the way their behaviour can improve their relationship with their child.

Triple P was developed in the 1980s by the University of Queensland, Australia to prevent and treat behaviour and emotional problems with children and teenagers. Pathways Triple P is a new branch for parents who are at risk of harming their child.

Research has shown that Pathways Triple P improves relationships between parents and children and reduces problems with children's behaviour (Wiggins et al, 2009).

How we evaluated this service

We've conducted the first evaluation of Video Interaction Guidance and the Pathways Triple P in relation to cases of neglect in the UK. Both programmes are known to work but this is the first evaluation of their effectiveness in helping children who have been neglected.

There are 2 components to the evaluation of Improving Parents, Improving Practice:

Impact evaluation

A quasi experimental design of the two programmes (Pathways Triple P and Video Interaction Guidance) plus an historic comparison dataset of parents over whom concerns of neglect were expressed and who received NSPCC family support services in 2006-2010.

Data was collected by practitioners delivering the programme at 3 time points:

  • T1: when programmes began
  • T2: when programmes ended
  • T3: six month follow up.

Process evaluation

Feedback forms from parents and practitioners and evaluation interviews with parents.

The biggest challenge to the evaluation was to work as consistently as possible over 8 services sites in 4 nations of the UK. The training of practitioners and administrators in these different places, together with on-going support from NSPCC programme managers and support staff, helped to reduce inconsistencies in practice.

Getting parents to complete 3 sets of measures at 3 time points was a challenge. A balance of informed consent from parents and persuasive encouragement from practitioners helped to maximise the evaluation data.

Obtaining interviews with parents was also a challenge. We approached this through feedback forms where parents could express an interest. These were followed-up by practitioners talking to the parent, then evaluators talking to the parent and then the offer of a home-based interview.

This evaluation was carried out internally by the NSPCC evaluation department. It used the following tools:

  • The Strengths and Difficulties Questionnaire
  • The Parenting Scale
  • The Parent Child Relationship Inventory

Find out more about the tools used to measure outcomes

Contact Paul Whalley for more information.

What we've learned

Children had fewer emotional and behavioural difficulties after participating in the Video Interation Guidance (VIG) programme or the Pathways Triple P programme.

Parents felt their parenting had improved following VIG or Triple P.

Partnership between parent and practitioner is vital. Parents valued working with a practitioner who is flexible with new ideas and suggestions and non-judgemental in their approach.

Read the evaluation report of Triple P and key findings and executive summary of VIG.

What we're doing next

The learning from these evaluations will be further developed in the new NSPCC service Thriving Families.

Impact and evidence

Find out how we evaluate and research the impact we’re making in protecting children, get tips and tools for researchers and access resources.

Our impact and evidence

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Last year a third of all calls to our helpline were about neglect, a figure that's even higher at Christmas. Donate now and help shine a light on children left in the dark.

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  1. Chaffin, M. et al (2009) A motivational intervention can improve retention in PCIT for low-motivation child welfare clients. Child Maltreatment 14(4): 356-368.

  2. Dowrick, P. W. (1999) A review of self modeling and related interventions. Applied and Preventive Psychology 8(1): 23-39.

  3. Fukkink, R. G. (2008) Video feedback in widescreen: a meta-analysis of family programs. Clinical Psychological Review 28(6): 904-916.

  4. Gardner, R. (2008) Developing an effective response to neglect and emotional harm to children (PDF). London: University of East Anglia and NSPCC.

  5. Wiggins T. L., Sofronoff, K. and Sanders, M. R. (2009) Pathways Triple P-Positive Parenting Program: effects on parent-child relationships and child behavior problems. Family Process 48(4): 517-530.