Randomised controlled trial of the effectiveness of the Parents Under Pressure Programme in reducing the risk of child abuse in substance dependent parents of children under 36 months of age

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Funded by: National Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Children (NSPCC)

Start date: Oct 2012

End date: Dec 2017

Project outline

Many babies in the UK are born to drug-dependent parents, and dependence on psychoactive drugs during the postnatal period is associated with high rates of child maltreatment, with around a quarter of these children being subject to a child protection plan.

This is one the first UK studies to examine the effectiveness of a programme targeting the parenting of substance-dependent parents of infants and toddlers, in terms of its effectiveness in improving the parent-infant relationship and reducing the potential for child abuse.

The study comprises a multicentre randomised controlled trial using a mixed-methods approach to data collection and analysis in order to identify which families are most able to benefit from this intervention. The study is being conducted in six family centres across the UK, and targets primary caregivers of children less than 2.5 years of age who are substance dependent. Consenting participants are randomly allocated to either the 20-week PuP programme or to standard care. The primary outcome is child abuse potential, and secondary outcomes include substance use, parental mental health and emotional regulation, parenting stress, and infant/toddler socio-emotional adjustment scale.

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