Condition category
Mental and Behavioural Disorders
Date applied
Date assigned
Last edited
Retrospectively registered
Overall trial status
Recruitment status
No longer recruiting

Plain English Summary

Not provided at time of registration

Trial website

Contact information



Primary contact

Dr Stephen Scott


Contact details

Reader in Child Health and Behaviour
Child and Adolescent Psychiatry
King’s College London
Institute of Psychiatry
De Crespigny Park
United Kingdom
+44 (0)20 7848 0746

Additional identifiers

EudraCT number number

Protocol/serial number

JRF Ref 9649

Study information

Scientific title



Study hypothesis

Families allocated to the intervention will show improvements in:
1. Parenting style
2. Child disruptive behaviour
3. Child reading ability

Ethics approval

Institute of Psychiatry Ethics 131/01

Study design

This was a group randomised controlled trial, with random allocation of classrooms to be either intervention classes or control group classes by a statistician independent to the project.

Primary study design


Secondary study design

Randomised controlled trial

Trial setting

Not specified

Trial type


Patient information sheet


Parenting quality and childhood antisocial behaviour and underachievement


Randomisation was at classroom level, rather than by individuals within it, so that all members of the class could be offered the new programme.
It was a two stage study, with:
1. Screening of all reception and year one pupils for levels of emotional and behavioural difficulties by parent and teacher completed questionnaire
2. In depth measures of selected cases stratified according to high or low level of need. Measures to be taken prior to the start of the intervention group, six months later (within two months of the end of the groups), and one year later, the latter thus allowing several months to elapse between the end of the intervention and the follow up assessment.

Intervention arm:
The parenting programme was an abbreviated form of the Supporting Parents on Kids Education in School, Scott, Sylva et al 2005 (SPOKES) programme. The programme lasted one and a half school terms and ran over 18 weeks. It comprised the basic 12 week Incredible Years parenting programme (Webster-Stratton and Hancock 1998), combined with an abbreviated, 6 week version of our in-house reading readiness programme for parents to use with children (the original lasted 10 weeks - Sylva and Crook 2005). Parents of 8-10 children were invited to attend a group for two and half hours in the morning after dropping their children off at school.

Control arm:
Schooling as usual.

Intervention type



Not Specified

Drug names

Primary outcome measure

Direct observation of attachment promoting parenting style. The observation procedure of the Conduct Problems Research Group (1999) was used, with videotaping of parent-child interaction at home across three tasks:
1. Child directed play (ten minutes)
2. Parent directed task - child attempts a difficult construction with Lego toy bricks (ten minutes)
3. Parents gets child to tidy away the toys (three minutes)
A recently devised coding scheme (Matias 2005) was used that measures sensitive responding, the core construct in attachment theory.

Secondary outcome measures

1. Child centred and child directive parental behaviours:
Here, rather than make global ratings of parental style, each individual vocalisation by the parent was rated using a scheme based on social learning principles.

2. Semi-structured interview of parenting practices:
This was a modified form of the interview devised by Quinton and Rutter (1985). Topics covered include:
a. Positive parenting practices such as giving praise and rewards
b. Non-physical discipline including withdrawal of privileges, use of short periods of time out from positive reinforcement
c. Coercive discipline, including how often parents got angry and critical of their child etc.

Child behaviour:
1. Direct observation:
The procedures described above under direct observation of parenting were used. The main scale was the child's attentiveness.

2. Semi-structured interview:
The Parent Account of Child Symptoms (PACS: Taylor et al 1986). This is an investigator-based interview similar in format and scoring to the Child and Adolescent Psychiatric Assessment, but is shorter. It has been used in many large scale surveys of thousands of children (Taylor and Sandberg 1984), and covers:
a. Attentiveness/ADHD symptoms
b. Antisocial behaviour: eight antisocial behaviours are covered, such as lying and stealing, disobedience and tantrums, destructiveness and physical aggression
c. Emotional symptoms. These included fears, worries, and sleep disturbances.

Child literacy:
British Ability Scale Single Word Reading (BAS II: Elliot, Smith and McCullough 1997).

Overall trial start date


Overall trial end date


Reason abandoned (if study stopped)


Participant inclusion criteria

First, in each school, each year, an intervention and a control class was randomly selected; children were in reception class or year one, thus aged 4-5 years old.
Second, letters went out to all parents and coffee mornings were held; the intervention programme was offered to everyone in the intervention class regardless of the child's problem behaviour.
Third, parents who expressed an interest were then contacted to assess further eligibility criteria:
1. Ability to understand English
2. Index child free of clinically apparent marked general global developmental delay or disorder
All parents of high risk children were offered places, and parents of 4 low risk children were randomly selected to form each group.

Participant type


Age group




Target number of participants

675 screened, 174 randomized

Participant exclusion criteria

Opposite of inclusion criteria above, hence parents who expressed no interest were not contacted to assess further eligibility criteria; parents were excluded if they were interested, but lacked:
1. Ability to understand English
2. Index child free of clinically apparent marked general global developmental delay or disorder

Recruitment start date


Recruitment end date



Countries of recruitment

United Kingdom

Trial participating centre

Reader in Child Health and Behaviour
United Kingdom

Sponsor information


King's College London (UK)

Sponsor details

Institute of Psychiatry
De Crespigny Park
United Kingdom

Sponsor type




Funder type


Funder name

Joseph Rowntree Foundation, reference number 9649, ID 801202

Alternative name(s)


Funding Body Type

private sector organisation

Funding Body Subtype



United Kingdom

Results and Publications

Publication and dissemination plan

Not provided at time of registration

Intention to publish date

Participant level data

Not provided at time of registration

Basic results (scientific)

Publication list

1. 2006 results in
2. 2013 results in:

Publication citations

  1. Results

    O'Connor TG, Matias C, Futh A, Tantam G, Scott S, Social learning theory parenting intervention promotes attachment-based caregiving in young children: randomized clinical trial., J Clin Child Adolesc Psychol, 2013, 42, 3, 358-370, doi: 10.1080/15374416.2012.723262.

Additional files

Editorial Notes