Do evidence-based programmes work in every context?

Researchers from The Social Research Unit at Dartington, along with the Universities of Exeter and York, have analysed the impact of three evidence-based programmes implemented in Birmingham as part of the city’s “Brighter Futures” strategy. A new article describing their findings illustrates that context matters.

The three programmes evaluated were the Incredible Years BASIC parenting programme, PATHS (Promoting Alternative Thinking Strategies), and the Triple-P parenting programme. In each case, a randomised controlled trial was conducted with validated standardised measures. The findings were as follows:

  • Incredible Years yielded reductions in negative parenting behaviours among parents, reductions in child behaviour problems, and improvements in children’s relationships.
  • In the PATHS trial, modest improvements in emotional health and behavioural development after one year disappeared by the end of year two.
  • There were no effects for Triple-P.

The authors suggest that much can be learned from the strengths and limitations of the Birmingham experience.

Source: The impact of three evidence-based programmes delivered in public systems in Birmingham, UK (2012), International Journal of Conflict and Violence, 6(2).

A practical guide to low-cost randomised controlled trials

This guide from the Coalition for Evidence-Based Policy summarises five well-conducted, low-cost randomised controlled trials (RCTs) carried out in real-world community settings. As the guide states, RCTs are regarded as the strongest method for evaluating programme effectiveness. Evaluations of the Triple P (Positive Parenting Programme) system and New York City’s teacher incentive programme are reviewed. The purpose of the guide is to illustrate the feasibility and value of low-cost RCTs for policy makers and researchers.

Source: Rigorous program evaluations on a budget: How low-cost randomized controlled trials are possible in many areas of social policy (2012), Coalition for Evidence-Based Policy