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Study Detail

Landry, S. H., Smith, K. E., Swank, P. R., & Guttentag, C. (2008). A responsive parenting intervention: The optimal timing across early childhood for impacting maternal behaviors and child outcomes. Developmental Psychology, 44(5), 1335-1353.

Program(s) Reviewed: Play and Learning Strategies (PALS) Infant, PALS Toddler, PALS Infant + Toddler

Study Screening Details

Screening DecisionScreening Conclusion
Study Passes ScreensEligible for Review

Study Design Details

RatingDesignAttritionBaseline EquivalenceReassignmentConfounding Factors
HighRandomized controlled trialLowEstablished on race and socioeconomic statusNoneNone

Study Characteristics

Study Participants

The study included mother-infant pairs who had participated in an earlier study by Landry et al. (2006) in which they had been randomly assigned to PALS I or a Development Assessment of Skills (DAS) group. For the current study, they were randomly assigned to one of two intervention groups: PALS II or another DAS comparison group, stratified by whether they had initially received PALS I or DAS. Thus, some received PALS I only, some received PALS II only, some received both PALS I and II, and the remaining pairs received DAS home visits only. According to information provided by the first author, initially 169 mother infant pairs were randomly assigned, 85 to the treatment groups and 84 to the comparison group. After attrition, 166 mother-infant pairs (84 PALS and 82 DAS) remained in the study. Approximately one-third of each group was African American, Hispanic, or Caucasian. Most were poor and unmarried. Mothers were all 18 years old or older at intake into the original study and averaged approximately 30 years old. On average, mothers had 12 or more years of education in both groups. Participants were followed over the course of 11 visits.

Setting

The study was conducted in the Houston-Galveston (Texas) area.

Home Visiting Services

PALS II was adapted from the PALS I curriculum to target similar responsive behaviors for toddlers plus an additional session targeting behavioral guidance. PALS II consists of a series of 11 home visits, each lasting 1.5 hours and occurring approximately weekly. The home visits are guided by a curriculum that included (1) asking mothers to review their experiences across the past week related to their efforts to try targeted behaviors, (2) describing the current visit’s targeted behavior, (3) watching and discussing with mothers the educational videotape of mothers from similar backgrounds, (4) videotaping mothers interacting with their infants in situations that the mothers selected with coaching, (5) supporting mothers to critique their behaviors and the infants’ responses during the videotaped practice, and (6) planning with mothers how to integrate responsive behaviors into their everyday activities with laminated cards. The facilitator coached the mothers to use the targeted behaviors, including commenting on the infants’ responses when the behaviors were used. Sessions were available in both English and Spanish.

Comparison Condition

Comparison group members received the same number of home visits from facilitators, which included discussions about new infant skills during the previous week and infant development and assessment. Facilitators provided mothers with answers to and handouts about their questions on infant skill development.

Staff Characteristics and Training

Facilitators, who had bachelor’s or master’s degrees, were trained to use the curriculum in a flexible manner to meet the learning needs of individual families. Training included review of videotaped facilitated sessions and coaching by a supervisor.

Funding Source

Department of Health and Human Services, National Institutes of Health, Grant HD36099.

Author Affiliation

Susan Landry, a study author, is a developer of this program model.


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