In December 2019, the NIHR agreed to fund a feasibility trial of DDP as a psychotherapy, compared to services-as-usual. The total amount of the award was £2.1 million.
The study, called the Relationships in Good Hands Trial (RIGHT), started in March 2020, and seeks to address the following questions:
- “Can we recommend better ways for social care and health services to work together to help adoptive and foster families?”
- “Can a therapy called DDP improve the mental health of 5-12 year old fostered or adopted children?”
- “Is DDP worth the commitment families need to give to it and the extra cost to the services that deliver it?”
Despite the Coronavirus, Phase One is complete and the study has now moved onto Phase Two.
Phase One spent careful time establishing how to measure the effects of DDP, how it can be delivered, how a comparison intervention can be described and delivered. This phase has also led to some additional research which is underway.
In Phase Two families will begin to receive DDP in the three trial sites. This phase will examine any practical issues around delivering and studying DDP, suggest improvements and then decide if it can proceed with a randomised control trial which would form Phase Three.
“We have spent the last 9 months interviewing practitioners from social services, the NHS and third sector to find out what the landscape is for DDP in the UK. We have found that the service landscape for these abused/neglected children is incredibly complex.
Our study will initially be carried out in three areas, Lanarkshire, Milton Keynes and surrounds, and Oxfordshire. We have chosen these three areas because they represent the different contexts in which DDP is delivered…
Families will be randomised to receive either DDP or “services as usual” which includes the range of services offered through social work and other non-DDP services that social workers might refer to (e.g. Theraplay).
We will carry out baseline assessments when the families join the trial and we will repeat these assessments twelve months later to see if anything has changed… After this feasibility stage of our study, we will open up more sites in the UK to increase the number of participants.
We are very excited to have the chance to carry out a large scale trial of DDP and are grateful to our funders, the National Institute of Health Research (NIHR)”Verity Westgate, Trial Coordinator for the English sites of the trial, based at the University of Oxford
This study is incredibly important as there is no established treatment for the effects of maltreatment on children.
It is being conducted over a range of sites from the NHS (Lanarkshire), local authority (ATTACH team) and the third Sector (Adoptionplus, Barnardo’s).
The University of Glasgow is leading the study, headed by Helen Minnis, Professor of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry, and working closely with DDP Connects UK, DDPI and the DDPI Research Committee. Dan Hughes has also helped to establish how DDP can be delivered consistent with the founding principles of his model.
Find out more
For more information about the trial, please visit the trial website, and keep up-to-date with all developments by signing up to the newsletter, by emailing Verity Westgate the Trial Coordinator.
See Professor Helen Minnis introduce the trial in the video below: