Understanding the implementation and effectiveness of a group-based early parenting intervention

Grainne Hickey, Sinead McGilloway, Mairead Furlong, Yvonne Leckey, Tracey Bywater, Michael Donnelly

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

21 Citations (Scopus)
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Group-based early parenting interventions delivered through community-based services may be a potentially effective means of promoting infant and family health and wellbeing. Process evaluations of these complex interventions provide vital information on how they work, as well as the conditions which shape and influence outcomes. This information is critical to decision makers and service providers who wish to embed prevention and early interventions in usual care settings. In this paper, a process evaluation protocol for an early years parenting intervention, the Parent and Infant (PIN) program, is described. This program combines a range of developmentally-appropriate supports, delivered in a single intervention process, for parents and infants (0–2 years) and aimed at enhancing parental competence, strengthening parent-infant relationships and improving infant wellbeing and adjustment.

The process evaluation is embedded within a controlled trial and accompanying cost-effectiveness evaluation. Building from extant frameworks and evaluation methods, this paper presents a systematic approach to the process evaluation of the PIN program and its underlying change principles, the implementation of the program, the context of implementation and the change mechanisms which influence and shape parent and infant outcomes. We will use a multi-method strategy, including semi-structured interviews and group discussions with key stakeholders, documentary analysis and survey methodology.

The integration of innovations into existing early years systems and services is a challenging multifaceted undertaking. This process evaluation will make an important contribution to knowledge about the implementation of such programs, while also providing an example of how theory-based research can be embedded within the evaluation of community-based interventions. We discuss the strengths of the research, such as the adoption of a collaborative approach to data collection, while we also identify potential challenges, including capturing and assessing complex aspects of the intervention.
Original languageEnglish
Article number490
Pages (from-to)490
Number of pages14
JournalBMC Health Services Research
Publication statusPublished - 15 Sept 2016


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