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Relationships in Good Hands - Clinical and Cost-effectiveness of Dyadic Developmental Psychotherapy (RIGHT)

The safety and scientific validity of this study is the responsibility of the study sponsor and investigators. Listing a study does not mean it has been evaluated by the U.S. Federal Government. Know the risks and potential benefits of clinical studies and talk to your health care provider before participating. Read our disclaimer for details. Identifier: NCT04187911
Recruitment Status : Not yet recruiting
First Posted : December 5, 2019
Last Update Posted : December 13, 2019
National Institute for Health Research, United Kingdom
University of Oxford
University of Nottingham
Information provided by (Responsible Party):
Helen Minnis, University of Glasgow

Brief Summary:

The research question is: Can the research recommend better ways for social care and health services to work work together to help adoptive and foster families? Can a therapy called DDP improve the mental health of 5-12 year old fostered or adopted children? Is DDP worth the commitment families need to give to it - and the extra cost to the services that deliver it? More than half of adopted or fostered children in the UK have mental health problems including ADHD (i.e. hyperactivity, impulsive behaviour and poor concentration), antisocial behaviour and problems with relationships. Abused and neglected children are more likely than others to have problems in school, become homeless, get involved in crime and even die young (e.g. from suicide), yet there are no fully tested treatments for such complex mental health problems. This is a huge problem because early treatment could greatly improve children's life chances - and reduce strain on health and social care budgets.

There is a Dyadic Developmental Psychotherapy (DDP) a parent-child therapy that takes around 20 sessions and focusses on "Playfulness, Acceptance, Curiosity and Empathy". There is not yet available really good evidence for or against it: many UK therapists like DDP, but it is a big commitment for families: once a week for about six months children will need time off school, the parents will need time off work - and this can be hard to explain to school friends, colleagues and bosses. Research team doesn't just need to know if DDP improves children's mental health - they also need to know if the commitment needed is worth it for families and whether the costs to services outweigh the benefits.

In PHASE 1 the research team will find out whether DDP can work smoothly in the three different settings where it is usually delivered: the NHS, Social Care and Private Practice. Many abused children need other medical and psychiatric support so, the research will assess whether children can get any additional assessments or referrals they may need .

In PHASE 2, the research team plans to find out if it is practically possible to run a high quality trial of DDP. This phase will involve 60 families to find out if they are happy to take part (whether offered DDP or usual services). If all goes to plan, these 60 families will contribute to the final results, along with the 180 families involved in the next PHASE 3 when the research team will test whether DDP is better than usual services and, if it is, whether the improvements in child mental health outweigh the costs.

What impact will the research have? This study will make recommendations about how services should work together to help abused and neglected children and their families. If the researcher team finds that DDP is worth the time and money, it could improve the mental health of abused and neglected children across the world.

Condition or disease Intervention/treatment Phase
Mental Health Psychiatric Problems Child Neglect Maltreatment Adoption Child Behaviour Problem DDP Behavioral: Dyadic Developmental Psychotherapy (DDP) Behavioral: Services as Usual (SAU) Not Applicable

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Study Type : Interventional  (Clinical Trial)
Estimated Enrollment : 240 participants
Allocation: Randomized
Intervention Model: Parallel Assignment
Intervention Model Description:

Phase 2 Months 10-26 (17 months) To examine the research questions, and minimise bias, we propose to use a single-blind randomised controlled design, with two-groups. The aim of this phase will be to respond to what recruitment and retention rates are over 6 months and trial assessments and intervention acceptability. We will aim to recruit around 60 families.

Consenting families will be individually randomised 1:1 to DDP or SAU, stratified by site. Individuals who consent to take part will have an equal chance of being randomised to either group.

Phase 3 (27 months RCT) The third phase will continue as a single-blind individually randomised control superiority definitive trial and will examine clinical and cost-effectiveness of DDP for improving child mental health, compared to SAU. We will aim to recruit additional 180 families. All the procedures will be same as during Phase 2 as explained in details above.

Masking: Single (Outcomes Assessor)
Primary Purpose: Treatment
Official Title: Relationships in Good Hands Trial: Clinical and Cost-effectiveness of Dyadic Developmental Psychotherapy for Abused and Neglected Young Children With Maltreatment-associated Problems and Their Parents
Estimated Study Start Date : March 1, 2020
Estimated Primary Completion Date : January 30, 2024
Estimated Study Completion Date : January 30, 2024

Arm Intervention/treatment
Experimental: Intervention - Dyadic Developmental Psychotherapy (DDP)
DDP involves approximately twenty 1 hour sessions (usually over 6-9 months) with the adoptive parent/foster carer and child, facilitated by a specifically trained therapist. DDP aims to treat trauma-related problems and Attachment Disorders over about 20 1-hour sessions using the core communication techniques of Playfulness, Acceptance, Curiosity and Empathy (PACE)
Behavioral: Dyadic Developmental Psychotherapy (DDP)
DDP involves approximately twenty 1 hour sessions (usually over 6-9 months) with the adoptive parent/foster carer and child, facilitated by a specifically trained therapist. The role of the therapist during sessions is to maintain an attuned relationship with both child and parent - modelling and encouraging development of a similarly attuned relationship between the child and parent. Therapists are trained to use Playfulness, Acceptance, Curiosity and Empathy (PACE). Our research suggests that key mechanisms of action in DDP might include the active participation of the parents and increased carer empathy and emotional warmth for the child. DDP experts believe this helps build parental capacity for attuned dialogue with the child, co-creation of the meanings underlying child behaviour, and co-regulation of experienced emotions aiming to address four main problem areas: 1. child emotional regulation 2. parental stress 3. the parent-child relationship 4. child mental health.

Active Comparator: Control - Services as Usual (SAU)
SAU tends to be case-dependent with therapists and social workers attempting to respond to the sometimes changeable needs of the family as needs arise.
Behavioral: Services as Usual (SAU)
SAU tends to be case-dependent with therapists and social workers attempting to respond to the sometimes changeable needs of the family as needs arise. At the time of our UK mapping and modelling work, these services were usually CAMHS based. This may have changed, at least for adoptive families, with the advent of the Adoption Support Fund, which, since May 2015, has allowed local authorities / adoption agencies to apply for funding for "essential therapeutic services". A wide range of interventions, many with a scant evidence base, have been purchased - sometimes from private practitioners - since 2015. In addition, relevant NICE guidelines, particularly those on Looked After and Accommodated Children, Attachment and Child Abuse and Neglect, have been published or updated.Our detailed qualitative and quantitative process evaluation throughout all study Phases will be crucial to carefully characterise SAU in all study sites.

Primary Outcome Measures :
  1. Strengths and Difficulties Questionnaire (SDQ) [ Time Frame: 12 months from baseline ]
    Strengths and Difficulties Questionnaire (SDQ) has good sensitivity to change in RCTs. Candidate measures are included for the four problem areas in our logic model: child emotion regulation, parental stress, parent-child relationship functioning and child mental health. The research team estimates that 190 families will be required to determine clinical- and cost effectiveness based on findings from an ongoing trial of maltreated pre-school children, information from clinics using the SDQ to evaluate DDP and SDQ population norms. This aims for 90% power, assumes a clinical difference in SDQ of 4 points, a baseline and 1-year follow-up correlation in SDQ of 0.4, a standard deviation in SDQ of 5.8, an intra-cluster correlation of 0.03 (between families who see the same therapist) and a retention rate of 72%.

  2. Reactive Attachment Disorder and Disinhibited Social Engagement Disorder Assessment (RADA) [ Time Frame: 12 months from baseline ]
    The Reactive Attachment Disorder and Disinhibited Social Engagement Disorder Assessment (RADA) is the only measure of Attachment Disorder symptoms that is well validated against clinician diagnosis in middle childhood. Ii is a diagnostic measure that has algorithms compliant with DSM 5 for Reactive Attachment Disorder (RAD) and Disinhibited Social Engagement Disorder (DSED), and it can also be used as a continuous measure (33-items; scoring range 0-66). Previous research suggests a standard deviation of 10.4 for the RADA. Applying the same assumption as for SDQ (correlation between baseline and follow-up of 0.4, correlation within clusters of 0.03, cluster size of 10, retention rate of 0.72), there will be 90% power to detect a difference in RADA of at least 7.25 with a sample size of 190. Typically developing children usually have very low or zero scores on measures for Attachment Disorders so would consider such a change in RADA to be clinically significant.

Information from the National Library of Medicine

Choosing to participate in a study is an important personal decision. Talk with your doctor and family members or friends about deciding to join a study. To learn more about this study, you or your doctor may contact the study research staff using the contacts provided below. For general information, Learn About Clinical Studies.

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Ages Eligible for Study:   5 Years to 12 Years   (Child)
Sexes Eligible for Study:   All
Accepts Healthy Volunteers:   No

Inclusion Criteria:

• Adoptive or permanent foster parents with children aged 5-12 years with symptoms of MAPP or co-occurring mental health conditions and non-psychotherapeutic treatments

Exclusion Criteria:

  • Families, otherwise eligible, deemed by therapists as not ready for DDP (usually where therapists have concerns about the ability of carers/parents to create a safe/ nurturing enough environment within which DDP can operate)
  • Children currently having another psychotherapy

Information from the National Library of Medicine

To learn more about this study, you or your doctor may contact the study research staff using the contact information provided by the sponsor.

Please refer to this study by its identifier (NCT number): NCT04187911

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Contact: Helen Minnis, Professor 01412010233
Contact: Marcela Gavigan 01413537520

Sponsors and Collaborators
University of Glasgow
National Institute for Health Research, United Kingdom
University of Oxford
University of Nottingham
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Principal Investigator: Helen Minnis, Professor University of Glasgow
Morton BM. Journal of Research in Childhood Education 2015;29:476-91.
Nelson CA, Fox NA, Zeanah CH. Developmental Psychopathology 2016:1-37.
Wright B, Barry M, Hughes E, et al. Health Technology Assessment 2015;19 (52) ISSN 1366- 5278.
(NICE) NIfHaCE. Children's Attachment: Attachment in children and young people who are adopted from care, in care or at high risk of going into care. . In. London: NICE; 2015.
Looked-after children and young people. National Institute for Health and Care Excellence 2015. (Accessed at
. Van der Kolk BA. Psychiatric annals 2017;35:401-8.

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Responsible Party: Helen Minnis, Professor of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry, University of Glasgow Identifier: NCT04187911    
Other Study ID Numbers: NIHR127801
L19083 ( Other Identifier: NHS R&D Lanarkshire )
First Posted: December 5, 2019    Key Record Dates
Last Update Posted: December 13, 2019
Last Verified: December 2019
Individual Participant Data (IPD) Sharing Statement:
Plan to Share IPD: No

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Studies a U.S. FDA-regulated Drug Product: No
Studies a U.S. FDA-regulated Device Product: No
Keywords provided by Helen Minnis, University of Glasgow:
Cost effectiveness
Clinical effectiveness
Additional relevant MeSH terms:
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Problem Behavior
Behavioral Symptoms