• By Michael Power
  • Posted on Wednesday 22nd July, 2009

How might we put treatment for life-threatening violence on trial?

In the mid-1990s the police domestic violence unit in Plymouth UK, a city with a population of around a quarter of a million, was receiving 1,000 notifications a year. In 1999, Ahimsa (meaning non-violence), an independent voluntary agency treating domestically violent men, approached the Centre for Social Policy at Dartington for help in independently evaluating its treatment program. It was esta…

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  • By Michael Little
  • Posted on Thursday 18th June, 2009

Twenty-one things I learned in Washington State

I recently participated on a study tour to Washington State with a group of policy makers, practitioners and investors in children from England, Ireland and the US. Each day I tried to summarize two or three lessons that might be helpful to me and to colleagues as we go about the task of improving outcomes for children.History1. We were reminded several times about how far we have come, and how fa…

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  • By Michael Little
  • Posted on Friday 22nd May, 2009

Monkhouse one-liner carries prevention message

Bob Monkhouse was a British comedian and chat-show host. He died in 2003. As he put it: "I've died many deaths. Prostate cancer, I don't recommend”. Before he died Monkhouse participated in a series of television and billboard advertisements designed to raise awareness of prostate cancer. The television advert carried a typical English music hall joke. "What killed me kills one man per hour in B…

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  • By Louise Morpeth
  • Posted on Friday 15th May, 2009

Families Facing the Future

We took a half hour ride out of Seattle to Everett. The scenery was familiar - long wide roads full of large American cars driving slowly by UK standards (no one going over 65), the usual signage for MacDonalds, Walmart and the myriad of US outlets. Our car drew to a halt outside a very ordinary looking single story building in a business park. We are not in a deprived part of town - there's no gr…

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  • By West Coast Study Tour
  • Posted on Friday 15th May, 2009

Days Five and Six: Take-home lessons

On the last two days the group visited Carolyn Webster-Stratton and her team to hear about the Incredible Years programme, and also the Social Development Research Group at the University of Washington to hear from David Hawkins, Kevin Haggerty and their team about the Communities that Care (CTC) prevention operating system and a series of evidence-based programmes that they have developed and tes…

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  • By Michael Little
  • Posted on Friday 15th May, 2009

Tweet me – I just want to make the "Incredible" credible!

Sensing the frustration of my fellow study tourists in not getting to the core of what makes The Incredible Years work, I propose to its originator, Carolyn Webster-Stratton, the following: The Incredible Years improves the emotional and behavioral development of children by reducing coercive parenting. That’s 110 characters.It’s not far off but it doesn’t quite cut it. It prompts Carolyn an…

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  • By West Coast Study Tour
  • Posted on Wednesday 13th May, 2009

Day Four: Questioning the meaning of evidence

Today we visited the Washington State Institute for Public Policy and heard from Steve Aos, Robert Barnoski and Stephanie Lee about their work for the state legislature on the cost-benefit of different programs. The group’s discussion afterwards focused on the meaning of ‘evidence-based’, the implications of evidence that a program doesn’t work, and how best to get politicians engaged with…

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  • By Michael Little
  • Posted on Tuesday 12th May, 2009

What is the Offer?

I've nothing but admiration for people like Scott Hengeller, Jim Alexander, Caroline Webster -Stratton and the other developers of evidence based programs. They went against the grain when the orthodoxy was "nothing works," and they succeeded in finding out that some things do work. And when people didn’t believe them, even though they'd used rigorous scientific techniques, they persevered.But t…

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  • By Louise Morpeth
  • Posted on Tuesday 12th May, 2009

Five days to go and everything to play for

Five busy days of visits and presentations lie ahead. We’re going to hear from some of the world's experts on prevention - people like Carolyn Webster-Stratton whose work I've been reading about for years - and we’ll get to meet the people working on the ground who have translated the theory into reality.We’ve chosen Washington as the focus of this year's tour. It’s such a hotbed for rese…

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  • By Michael Little
  • Posted on Tuesday 12th May, 2009

Tweet Tweet

So, following earlier speculation about getting to the essence of the "offer" of evidenced based programs, I gave my tweeting skills a try on Functional Family Therapy. I got to:FFT improves relationships in highly dysfunctional families so that adolescents get along better at home and behave better in society.That's 136 characters. Four to spare. Ideally I would fit in the words "is proven" – t…

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  • By West Coast Study Tour
  • Posted on Tuesday 12th May, 2009

Day Three: Finding the Right Fit

Today we spent the time focusing on Functional Family Therapy. Discussion in the group focused on three areas. First is the fit between programs and systems. Jane Lewis, Director of Research for the National Children’s Bureau, observed: “We’re not really hearing about integrated services. There’s lots of discussion between professionals but it’s not systems-based”. Abel Ortiz, Senior A…

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  • By Michael Little
  • Posted on Monday 11th May, 2009

What is public health?

Driving to a middle school in Seattle, the bus goes past a government building. In the foyer is a poster that reads:WHAT IS PUBLIC HEALTH? Checking the website later it turns out to be a campaign organized by public health students in the US to demonstrate how their discipline improves people’s lives.It is a sad reflection that a discipline that has done so much to transform human well-being…

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  • By West Coast Study Tour
  • Posted on Monday 11th May, 2009

Day Two: Get with the program but see the bigger picture

This is the second of a series of group reflections on the study tour. Today we visited the Olweus bullying program and Multisystemic Therapy (MST). Prevention Action talks to Celia Arriaga, Seattle coordinator of the Olweus Bullying ProgramOne question concerns fidelity and the extent to which flexibility in implementation, to take account of local context, loses the evidence base. Fidelity sound…

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  • By Michael Little
  • Posted on Sunday 10th May, 2009

Unearthing recipes for the good life

This week I am in Seattle to support a study tour organized by the Social Research Unit looking at prevention and early intervention programs in practice. This blog is a collection of random observations on the week.We have been in Seattle at least 12 hours and it hasn’t rained. We are staying in a hotel converted from a ‘gentleman’s club’ established during the great expansion of the City…

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  • By West Coast Study Tour
  • Posted on Sunday 10th May, 2009

Day One: Expectations for Seattle

A key objective for many is to learn about the challenges of implementing proven programmes. As Julie Anderson, Lead for Information Sharing and Assessment in Norfolk Children’s Services, reflected, “People often say ‘I take this on board but…’ – I want to get some answers to the but”. In the same vein, Pauline Curran, Advisor for the Southern Library Board in Northern Ireland, ackno…

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