A randomised controlled feasibility trial and qualitative evaluation of an early years language development intervention: study protocol of the ‘outcomes of Talking Together evaluation and results’ (oTTer) project

Claudine Anne Bowyer-Crane, Dea Nielsen, Maria Bryant, Nimarta Dharni, Rebecca Heald, Chloe Storr, Josie Dickerson

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Problems with oral language skills in childhood have been linked with poor educational, employment, and mental health outcomes. In the UK, there is increasing concern about the oral language skills of children, particularly children from areas of social disadvantage. Research emphasises the importance of the home language environment as a fundamental bedrock for the development of oral language skills. It is vital, therefore, that support is available to help families in need to provide the optimal language environment for their child. Talking Together is a 6-week home visiting programme recently commissioned by Better Start Bradford to develop parents’ knowledge of the importance of a good language environment and help to improve parent-child interactions. This study represents the initial steps in developing a definitive trial of the Talking Together programme.

This study is a two-arm randomised controlled feasibility study in which families referred into the Talking Together programme and consent to participate in the trial will be randomly allocated to either an intervention group or a waiting control group. We will assess the recruitment and retention rates, the representativeness of our sample, the appropriateness of our measures, and the sample size needed for a definitive trial. We will also carry out a qualitative evaluation to explore the acceptability of trial procedures for families and service providers, fidelity of delivery, time and resources for training, and barriers and facilitators to engagement with the programme. Clear progression criteria will be used to assess suitability for a definitive trial.

This feasibility study will inform the development of a definitive trial of this home-based visiting programme, which will add to the sparse evidence base on which practitioners can draw when supporting families in need. The lessons learnt from this feasibility study will also inform the wider evaluation work of the Better Start Bradford Innovation Hub.

Trial registration
The trial is registered with the ISRCTN registry: study ID ISRCTN13251954. Date of registration: 21 February 2019 (the trial was retrospectively registered).
Original languageEnglish
Article number119 (2019)
Number of pages12
JournalPilot and Feasibility Studies
Early online date29 Oct 2019
Publication statusE-pub ahead of print - 29 Oct 2019

Bibliographical note

© The Author(s). 2019

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