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Incredible Years parenting programme: cost-effectiveness and implementation

Rhiannon Tudor Edwards (Professor, Centre for Health Economics and Medicines Evaluation, Bangor University, Bangor, UK)
Carys Jones (Centre for Health Economics and Medicines Evaluation, Bangor University, Bangor, UK)
Vashti Berry (Senior Research Fellow, Peninsula Medical School, Plymouth University, Plymouth, UK)
Joanna Charles (Centre for Health Economics and Medicines Evaluation, Bangor University, Bangor, UK)
Pat Linck (Centre for Health Economics and Medicines Evaluation, Bangor University, Bangor, UK.)
Tracey Bywater (Institute for Effective Education, University of York, York, UK)
Judy Hutchings (Centre for Evidence Based Early Intervention, School of Psychology, Bangor University, Bangor, UK)

Journal of Children's Services

ISSN: 1746-6660

Article publication date: 21 March 2016




There is growing interest in the economic evaluation of public health prevention initiatives and increasing government awareness of the societal costs of conduct disorder in early childhood. The purpose of this paper is to investigate the cost-effectiveness of the Incredible Years (IY) BASIC parenting programme compared with a six-month waiting list control.


Cost-effectiveness analysis alongside a pragmatic randomised controlled trial of a group-parenting programme. The primary outcome measure was the Strengths and Difficulties Questionnaire (SDQ), a measure of child behaviour.


The IY programme was found to have a high probability of being cost-effective, shifting an additional 23 per cent of children from above the clinical concern to below the cut-off on the SDQ compared to the control group, at a cost ranging from £1612-£2418 per child, depending on the number of children in the group.


The positive findings of this study have led to ongoing implementation of the IY programme and is therefore an example of commitment to evidence-based service provision and investment in prevention initiatives.



Declaration of Interest: J.H. is paid by the IY programme developer for running occasional training courses in the delivery of the parent programme. All other authors declare no conflict of interest.Funding: This study was funded by Birmingham City Council in collaboration with the Social Research Unit, Dartington. Ethical Approval: North West Wales Ethics Committee.

Trial No. ISRCTN48762440. Note: As two authors of this paper were employees of the Dartington Social Research Unit (DSRU) at the time of the research (albeit not when the paper was submitted), and the research formed part of wider study by the DSRU, it was inappropriate for the Editors of the Journal of Children’s Services at the time (Nick Axford and Michael Little, both employees of the DSRU) to oversee the review process. Accordingly, a member of the Editorial Board, Professor Jeni Beecham, kindly oversaw the review process and made all decisions concerning the paper, including reviewer selection, recommended revisions and ultimately acceptance for publication.

The authors wish to acknowledge the support from Birmingham County Council Brighter Futures team and the Social Research Unit, Dartington, Devon. The author also acknowledge and thank the valuable help participants in the study gave in completing questionnaires. Furthermore, the authors would like to thank Seow Tien Yeo at the Centre for Health Economics and Medicines Evaluation for her advice and statistical support and Alison Shaw and Jacqueline Williams-Bulkeley for reader support in preparation of this manuscript.


Edwards, R.T., Jones, C., Berry, V., Charles, J., Linck, P., Bywater, T. and Hutchings, J. (2016), "Incredible Years parenting programme: cost-effectiveness and implementation", Journal of Children's Services, Vol. 11 No. 1, pp. 54-72.



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