Authors: Allen J, Marshall CR
Title: Parent-Child Interaction Therapy (PCIT) in school-aged children with specific language impairment
Source: International Journal of Language and Communication Disorders 2011 46(4): 397-410
Year: 2011
Research Design: Randomised Controlled Trial
Rating Score: 03/10
This rating is confirmed
Eligibility specified - Y
Random allocation - Y
Concealed allocation - N
Baseline comparability - N
Blind subjects - N
Blind therapists - N
Blind assessors - N
Adequate follow-up - Y
Intention-to-treat analysis - N
Between-group comparisons - Y
Point estimates and variability - N

Background: Parents play a critical role in their child's language development. Therefore, advising parents of a child with language difficulties on how to facilitate their child's language might benefit the child. Parent-Child Interaction Therapy (PCIT) has been developed specifically for this purpose. In PCIT, the speech-and-language therapist (SLT) works collaboratively with parents, altering interaction styles to make interaction more appropriate to their child's level of communicative needs. Aims: This study investigates the effectiveness of PCIT in 8-10-year-old children with specific language impairment (SLI) in the expressive domain. It aimed to identify whether PCIT had any significant impact on the following communication parameters of the child: verbal initiations, verbal and non-verbal responses, mean length of utterance (MLU), and proportion of child-to-parent utterances. Methods & Procedures: Sixteen children with SLI and their parents were randomly assigned to two groups: treated or delayed treatment (control). The treated group took part in PCIT over a 4-week block, and then returned to the clinic for a final session after a 6-week consolidation period with no input from the therapist. The treated and control group were assessed in terms of the different communication parameters at three time points: pre-therapy, post-therapy (after the 4-week block) and at the final session (after the consolidation period), through video analysis. It was hypothesized that all communication parameters would significantly increase in the treated group over time and that no significant differences would be found in the control group. Outcomes & Results: All the children in the treated group made language gains during spontaneous interactions with their parents. In comparison with the control group, PCIT had a positive effect on three of the five communication parameters: verbal initiations, MLU and the proportion of child-to-parent utterances. There was a marginal effect on verbal responses, and a trend towards such an effect for non-verbal responses. Conclusions & Implications: Despite the small group sizes, this study provides preliminary evidence that PCIT can achieve its treatment goals with 8-10-year-olds who have expressive language impairments. This has potentially important implications for how mainstream speech and language services provide intervention to school-aged children. In contrast to direct one-to-one therapy, PCIT offers a single block of therapy where the parents' communication and interaction skills are developed to provide the child with an appropriate language-rich environment, which in turn could be more cost-effective for the service provider.

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