Open Access Highly Accessed Research article

Evaluation of the national roll-out of parenting programmes across England: the parenting early intervention programme (PEIP)

Geoff Lindsay1* and Steve Strand2

Author Affiliations

1 Centre for Educational Development, Appraisal and Research (CEDAR), University of Warwick, Kirby Corner Road, Coventry CV4 7AL, UK

2 Department for Education, University of Oxford, 15 Norham Gardens, Oxford OX2 6PY, USA

For all author emails, please log on.

BMC Public Health 2013, 13:972  doi:10.1186/1471-2458-13-972

Published: 19 October 2013



Evidence based parenting programmes can improve parenting skills and the behaviour of children exhibiting, or at risk of developing, antisocial behaviour. In order to develop a public policy for delivering these programmes it is necessary not only to demonstrate their efficacy through rigorous trials but also to determine that they can be rolled out on a large scale. The aim of the present study was to evaluate the UK government funded national implementation of its Parenting Early Intervention Programme, a national roll-out of parenting programmes for parents of children 8–13 years in all 152 local authorities (LAs) across England. Building upon our study of the Pathfinder (2006–08) implemented in 18 LAs. To the best of our knowledge this is the first comparative study of a national roll-out of parenting programmes and the first study of parents of children 8–13 years.


The UK government funded English LAs to implement one or more of five evidence based programmes (later increased to eight): Triple P, Incredible Years, Strengthening Families Strengthening Communities, Families and Schools Together (FAST), and the Strengthening Families Programme (10–14). Parents completed measures of parenting style (laxness and over-reactivity), and mental well-being, and also child behaviour at three time points: pre- and post-course and again one year later.


6143 parents from 43 LAs were included in the study of whom 3325 provided post-test data and 1035 parents provided data at one-year follow up. There were significant improvements for each programme, with effect sizes (Cohen’s d) for the combined sample of 0.72 parenting laxness, 0.85 parenting over-reactivity, 0.79 parent mental well-being, and 0.45 for child conduct problems. These improvements were largely maintained one year later. All four programmes for which we had sufficient data for comparison were effective. There were generally larger effects on both parent and child measures for Triple P, but not all between programme comparisons were significant. Results for the targeted group of parents of children 8–13 years were very similar.


Evidence-based parenting programmes can be rolled out effectively in community settings on a national scale. This study also demonstrates the impact of research on shaping government policy.

Parenting programme; Evidence based practice; Effectiveness trial; National roll-out; Triple P; Incredible years; Strengthening families strengthening communities; FAST; Strengthening families programme 10-14