Plain English Summary
Background and study aims
Childhood is an important stage of life which has long lasting effects into adulthood. Unfortunately many children now experience emotional and behavioural problems which can lead to problems within their family, school and local communities. Strengthening Families, Strengthening Communities (SFSC) is a parenting programme delivered across the country. This study aims to assess whether the SFSC parenting programme is working in helping those who attend to feel better in themselves, feel less stressed and generally being more able to cope with looking after their families. We will also assess if the programme has an effect on children’s behaviour and well being. The study will take place across 7 urban areas of England where the SFSC programme is offered.
Who can participate?
We are asking parents/carers of children aged 3-18 years who plan to start the SFSC programme to take part in the study. In total 676 parents agreeing to take part will be randomly allocated (like flipping a coin) into two groups: the test group will start the programme immediately, and the control group will start the programme in 10 months time.
What does the study involve?
All the parents agreeing to take part in the study will be interviewed in person or by telephone at the start, after the programme has been completed and then 6 months later. The interviews will each last approximately 30 minutes.
What are the possible benefits and risks of participating?
The results of this project will provide valuable information on whether the SFSC programme is effective in helping parents cope better with looking after their families. All parents involved will be sent a £10 gift token after they complete the 6-month interview as a gesture of thanks for their participation. At the end of the project everyone who has been involved will be sent a summary of the study findings.
Possible disadvantages of taking part in the study include the time involved for the interviews and the potential stress caused by being asked questions about how parents feel about themselves and their family. Every effort will be made to arrange interviews at a convenient time for parents. The interviews will be conducted by skilled and experienced researchers.
Where is the study run from?
The study will run from seven urban areas across England:
• Greater Manchester
• Yorkshire/Humberside (Calderdale; Hull; Kirklees; Leeds; York; Barnsley)
• South London (Lewisham; Lambeth; Southwark; Wandsworth)
• North London (Islington; Brent; Enfield; Barnet)
• West London (Hammersmith and Fulham; Kensington and Chelsea; Ealing; Hounslow)
• East London (Tower Hamlets; Waltham Forest; Hackney; Barking and Dagenham)
The project is being led by University College London.
When is the study starting and how long is it expected to run for?
The study starts on the 1st March 2019 and runs for 48 months ending on the 28th February 2023.
Who is funding the study?
This study is being funded by the National Institute for Health Research (NIHR) – Public Health Research Programme.
Who is the main contact?
Professor Richard Watt, email@example.com
Prof Richard Watt
Department of Epidemiology and Public Health
1-19 Torrington Place
Together Protocol Version 1 (16/122/35)
A randomised controlled trial evaluating the effectiveness and cost effectiveness of 'Strengthening Families, Strengthening Communities': a community led parenting programme
In an ethnically diverse population of families with children aged 3-18 years living in socially disadvantaged areas across England, does the offer of the Strengthening Families, Strengthening Communities (SFSC) parenting programme compared to waiting list controls significantly enhance parental well-being and child social and emotional well-being?
Approved 17/02/2019, UCL Ethics Committee (Helen Dougal, UCL Research Ethics Administrator, Office of the Vice-Provost (Research), University College London, 2 Taviton Street, London, WC1H 0BT; 020 7679 8717; firstname.lastname@example.org), ref: 1538/002
Multi-centre wait list controlled randomised trial
Primary study design
Secondary study design
Randomised controlled trial
Patient information sheet
Not available in web format, please use contact details to request a participant information sheet.
Parental mental well-being and child socio-emotional well-being.
Strengthening Families, Strengthening Communities (SFSC) is a group based universal parenting programme designed to support parents with children aged up to 18 years to improve their well-being, confidence and competence in parenting; develop better relationships with their children; explore strategies to put appropriate boundaries in place; support their children to minimise risky behaviours; and help children transition through childhood to adulthood. In addition, it aims to empower parents to play a more active role in their local communities.
Originally developed in the US, the Race Equality Foundation (an independent charitable community organisation committed to race equality) has adapted the programme for the UK. Since 2000 it has been delivered by family and social care organisations across England. Based upon social learning theory, it uses interactive methods to encourage parents to share their experiences and undertake practical activities to develop their skills, confidence and self-esteem. The 13-week programme is delivered by trained family workers guided by a detailed programme manual and supporting quality assurance resources.
Participants enrolling on the SFSC programmes (n=52 clusters in total) across the 7 areas will be approached to participate in the study, consent sought and agreed, baseline outcome data collected and then individually randomised to intervention or waiting list controls. Those randomised to the wait list control arm will be offered a place in the programme once the 6-month follow-up data have been collected.
Primary outcome measure
Parental mental well-being will be measured using the Warwick-Edinburgh Mental Well-Being Scale (WEMWBS) at baseline, end of programme and then 6 months
Secondary outcome measures
To be collected at baseline, end of programme and then 6 months
1. Child socio-emotional well-being will be measured by the Strengths and Difficulties Questionnaire (SDQ) – parent report.
2. Parenting practices: measured via a) Parenting Scale – a parent report of dysfunctional parenting practices; b) Parental Sense of Competence Scale – measuring parenting competencies, efficacy and satisfaction in parenting.
3. Child-parent relationship and parental stress - measured by Child-Parent Relationship Scale (short version)
4. Family relationships and conflict – measured using the Quality of Marriage Index
5. Social support – measured by selected items used in the Millennium Cohort Study and the Avon Longitudinal Study of Parents and Children.
6. Parental quality of life: – measured by the EQ-5D-5L.
7. Community engagement and use of local services – measured by items from the Citizenship Survey and Buckner Social Cohesion Scale.
8. Use of NHS, social care, criminal justice system and mainstream/special education services measured using retrospective questionnaires, adapted from previous measures on the Database of Instruments for Resource Use Measurement (http://www.dirum.org/).
Overall trial start date
Overall trial end date
Reason abandoned (if study stopped)
Participant inclusion criteria
1. Parents attending the SFSC parenting programme in the participating areas
2. Parents of children aged 3-18 years
Target number of participants
676 participants in main trial
Participant exclusion criteria
1. Unable or unwilling to provide written informed consent to participate
2. Already participating in another research study
Recruitment start date
Recruitment end date
Countries of recruitment
Trial participating centre
Department of Epidemiology and Public Health UCL 1-19 Torrington Place
National Institute for Health Research
Funding Body Type
Funding Body Subtype
Results and Publications
Publication and dissemination plan
Planned publication in a high-impact peer-reviewed journal
IPD sharing statement:
The data sharing plans for the current study are unknown and will be made available at a later date
Intention to publish date
Participant level data
To be made available at a later date
Basic results (scientific)