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Evaluation of a peer led parenting intervention for disruptive behaviour problems in children: community based randomised controlled trial

BMJ 2012; 344 doi: (Published 13 March 2012) Cite this as: BMJ 2012;344:e1107
  1. Crispin Day, head12,
  2. Daniel Michelson, senior clinical research associate1,
  3. Stacey Thomson, postdoctoral researcher1,
  4. Caroline Penney, specialist trainer2,
  5. Lucy Draper, specialist trainer2
  1. 1Child and Adolescent Mental Health Services Research Unit, Department of Psychology, Institute of Psychiatry, King’s College London, London SE5 8AF, UK
  2. 2Centre for Parent and Child Support, South London and Maudsley NHS Foundation Trust, Michael Rutter Centre, London
  1. Correspondence to: mailto:D Michelson daniel.m.d.michelson{at}
  • Accepted 22 December 2011


Objective To evaluate the effectiveness of a peer led parenting intervention delivered to socially disadvantaged families.

Design Randomised controlled trial.

Setting Schools and children’s centres in a socially deprived borough of inner London.

Participants Parental caregivers seeking help with managing the problem behaviours of 116 index children, aged 2-11 years; 59 families were randomised to the intervention and 57 to a waitlist control condition.

Intervention Empowering parents, empowering communities is an eight week (two hours each week), manualised programme delivered to groups of parents by trained peer facilitators from the local community.

Main outcome measures Child problems (number and severity), parental stress, and parenting competencies were assessed before and after the intervention using standardised parent reported measures.

Results Significantly greater improvements in positive parenting practices and child problems were observed in the intervention group compared with the waitlist group, with no difference in parental stress between the groups. An intention to treat analysis for the primary outcome measure, the intensity subscale of the Eyberg child behaviour inventory, showed an intervention effect size of 0.38 (95% confidence interval 0.01 to 0.75, P=0.01). The intervention group had high rates of treatment retention (91.5%) and user satisfaction.

Conclusion The peer led parenting intervention significantly reduced child behaviour problems and improved parenting competencies. This is a promising method for providing effective and acceptable parenting support to families considered hard to reach by mainstream services.

Trial registration Current Controlled Trials ISRCTN01962337.


  • We thank Caroline Adewole, Annika Jaramillo, and Catherine Kearney for their assistance on the empowering parents, empowering communities project; the peer facilitators and parents involved with the project; Stephen Rock and Susan Tilki for their assistance with data collection; and Guy’s and St Thomas’ Charity and the London Borough of Southwark for funding.

  • Contributors: CD was principal investigator, obtained funding, and acts as guarantor for the research. DM and CD designed the study. ST carried out consent and randomisation procedures; collected, managed, and analysed data; and wrote the first draft of the paper under the supervision of DM. DM and CD critically revised the manuscript. CP and LD advised on the manuscript, authored the intervention manual, and supervised the peer facilitators.

  • Funding: This study was supported by Guy’s and St Thomas’ Charity and the London Borough of Southwark.

  • Competing interests: All authors have completed the ICMJE uniform disclosure form at (available on request from the corresponding author) and declare that: all authors have support from the Institute of Psychiatry, King’s College London for the submitted work; all authors have no relationships with any organisations that might have an interest in the submitted work in the previous three years; and all authors have no non-financial interests that may be relevant to the submitted work.

  • Ethical approval. This study was approved by the National Health Service National Research Ethics Service (South West 2 research ethics committee).

  • Data sharing: No additional data available.

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