Evaluating the effectiveness of the BEST intervention: a clear destination with an incomplete map

Cristina McKean, Sean Pert, Carol Stow, Helen Stringer, Kate Hope, James Law, Lauren Standbridge, Cherry-Beth Harwood, Jess Flintoff, Chloe Isherwood, Emma Topham, Eleanor Davis

Research output: Contribution to conferencePaperpeer-review


The design and implementation of effective interventions to tackle poor language development in the pre-school years is vital. However, very few pre-school language interventions have been robustly evaluated, only a handful have been found to be effective, and still fewer have proven to be readily transterred to practice. There is a continuing need therefore, to develop and robustly evaluate interventions for this group.

Two potential sources of the lack of success in intervention design are:
1) the absence of clear motivating linguistic theory for many interventions in current practice
2) inadequate consideration of the implementation of interventions in current models of practice.

The Medical Research Council guidance on the development and evaluation of complex interventions outlines four key research phases:
• Development
• Feasibility/Piloting
• Evaluation
• Implementation

This study builds on a previous Development phase conducted in partnership with SLIs which resulted in the design of an acceptable and feasible intervention based on usage-based linguistic theory. Here we take the next steps and so conduct a Pilot and Feasibility study and ask:
1. What is the effect size of the intervention for the primary and secondary outcome measures when compared to 'usual treatment'?
2. Which primary and secondary outcome measures are appropriate for a full trial?
3. What are the appropriate inclusion/ exclusion criteria?
4. What levels of recruitment and/or retention would be expected? What barriers might there be to recruitment and or retention?
5. What strategies need to be in place for adequate treatment fidelity? What levels of fidelity were achieved?
6. Is BEST an acceptable intervention for delivery in nurseries for parents and for staff?

This work now positions us to conduct a fully powered trial with the ultimate aim of determining whether this approach can be effective in promoting the language development of pre-school children with poor language development.
in these linked presentations and plenary we will 1) describe the BEST intervention and how it was developed 2) outline the aims and methods of the pilot and feasibility study, 3) summarise some of our key findings and 4) discuss what we have learned with respect to conducting clinical research.
Original languageEnglish
Publication statusPublished - 8 Aug 2016
EventNorth East Speech and Language Therapy Research Symposium: Research in Practice: Successfully Combining Clinical and Academic Pathways - Newcastle University , Newcastle upon Tyne, United Kingdom
Duration: 8 Jul 2016 → …


ConferenceNorth East Speech and Language Therapy Research Symposium
Country/TerritoryUnited Kingdom
CityNewcastle upon Tyne
Period8/07/16 → …


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