Building an evidence base is not a sprint, it’s a marathon

Building an evidence base to support a public health approach to parenting support is not a sprint, it’s a marathon, Professor of Clinical Psychology and Director of the University of Queensland’s Parenting and Family Support Centre, Professor Matt Sanders, told this year’s HFCC.

That marathon has been gathering momentum and pace over the past decade as more and more researchers around the world look at ways to improve the lives of children and families through interventions such as Triple P.

“The Triple P evidence base is a hugely expanding knowledge base which continues to grow,’’ Professor Sanders said in his keynote address at Beurs Van Berlage in Amsterdam.

Matt Sanders

Professor Matthew Sanders

“Since 2006, there has been a 680 per cent increase on the number of publications per year. At last count, a total of 776 researchers had contributed to 588 papers on Triple P from 244 research institutions. This includes 388 theoretical or conceptual papers, 206 evaluation papers and 104 RCTs.’’

There have been 38 service-based evaluations of Triple P and, across all categories, the number of and percentage of papers with a null finding has been 11 (five per cent).

Of those null findings, 64 per cent involved developers of the program. And of the positive findings, 45 per involved researchers independent of the development of the program.

“But are there yet? No, we are not,’’ Professor Sanders said. “There are many things we still have to do to improve our body of knowledge, such as how we can reach more families who are likely to benefit.

“Having universal services is no guarantee that families who require interventions will participate.
We must never stop the search to improve the quality of interventions that are required and that includes being prepared to reconsider the core principles of the program.’’

Read more at the Triple P Research Blog here.