This week Renske Schappin presented her PhD at the University of Utrecht in which she examined the effect of the Triple P-approach with 2-5 years old preterm born children with emotional / behavioral problems which has proven to be quite popular. She compared 2 groups of children with behavioral problems from which the parents and educators of one group received Triple P-training, the other group didn’t. (Source in Dutch)
When compared, Schappin couldn’t find any significant effect of the approach.
If you wonder what Triple P is:
Wikipedia describes Triple P as
a multilevel parenting intervention with the main goal of increasing the knowledge, skills, and confidence of parents at the population level and, as a result, reduce the prevalence of mental health, emotional, and behavioral problems in children and adolescents. The program is a universal preventive intervention (all members of the given population participate) with selective interventions specifically tailored for at risk children and parents.
A Triple P website for parents advertises
the international award winning Triple P – Positive Parenting Program®, backed by over 25 years of clinically proven, world wide research, has the answers to your parenting questions and needs. How do we know? Because we’ve listened to and worked with thousands of parents and professionals across the world. We have the knowledge and evidence to prove that Triple P works for many different families, in many different circumstances, with many different problems, in many different places!
The Triple P website for practitioners declares
As an individual practitioner or a practitioner working within an organisation you need to be sure that the programs you implement, the consultations you provide, the courses you undertake and the resources you buy actually work.
Triple P is one of the only evidence-based parenting programs available worldwide, founded on over 30 years of clinical and empirical research.
Earlier this year, in November, Scottish researchers described how much of the earlier proof of the positive effect of the approach evaporates when they examined the evidence. (check their systematic review and meta-analysis)
On PlosOne James Coyne takes a closer look at the work by Philip Wilson and his Scottish colleagues and discovered that they found an important weakness in the research but to hi, they even underestimated how big the problem is: “Wilson and colleagues pointed to serious deficiencies in the body of evidence supporting the efficacy of Triple P parenting programs, but once we exclude underpowered trials, there is little evidence left.”
The thing is, just as with many of such programs a lot of money is involved and it’s sometimes very difficult to criticize. Schappin stated that she found it very difficult to get her research published as the major journals which she perceived as a publication bias, something that Coyne and Wilson also mention of sorts. I don’t know for sure if that’s the case of course. What I do know that for an expensive program, there is reasonable doubt and further research is at least advisable before investing?