The Incredible Years Therapeutic Dinosaur programme aims to build social and emotional competence, and is delivered to small groups of children at high risk of developing conduct disorder. It is effective for clinically referred children, enhancing social, problem-solving skills, and peer relationship-building skills, when delivered in a clinical setting to small groups.
There is also an Incredible Years Classroom Dinosaur Programme that targets pupil behaviour across whole classrooms. However, the Therapeutic Programme is aimed at pupils for whom a more intensive approach is needed.
This randomised controlled trial, funded by the Big Lottery, aims to evaluate the effectiveness of the therapeutic programme in Welsh primary schools, where it is currently being implemented.
The trial will provide information on the delivery and effectiveness of a child centred, school-based intervention delivered to small groups of children at risk of developing more severe conduct problems. The effects on child behaviour in school and home environments, academic attainment, peer interactions, and parent and teacher mental health will be assessed.
This is a pragmatic, parallel, randomised controlled trial.
240 children (aged four to eight years) rated by their teacher as above the 'borderline cut-off' for concern on the Strengths and Difficulties Questionnaire, and their parents, will be recruited.
Randomisation is by individual within blocks (schools); 1:1 ratio, intervention to waiting list control.
20 schools will participate in two phases. Two teachers per school will deliver the programme to six intervention children for two hours per week for 18 weeks between baseline and first follow-up. The control children will receive the intervention after first follow up.
Phase 1 comprises three data collection points - baseline and two follow-ups eight months apart. Phase 2 includes baseline and first follow-up.
The Therapeutic Programme includes elements on: learning school rules; understanding, identifying, and articulating feelings; problem solving; anger management; how to be friendly; and how to do your best in school.
Primary outcomes are; changes in child social, emotional and behavioural difficulties. Secondary outcomes are: teacher and parent mental wellbeing; child academic attainment; and child and teacher school attendance. Intervention delivery will be assessed for fidelity.
Intention to treat analyses will be conducted. ANCOVA, effect sizes, mediator and moderator analyses will be applied to establish differences between conditions, and for whom the intervention works best for and why.
Dr Tracey Bywater is a collaborator on this trial, and was previously the PI. More information about Incredible Years is available through the programme website.