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Trials and Tribulations: the challenges of promoting sustainable improvements in child development

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Please note this talk will be online and in person, if you would like the Zoom link please email the organiser.There is a capacity of 50 people in the Psychology Lecture Theatre so attendees will be allowed entry on a first come first serve basis. There is a possibility that you will be refused entry once we have reached capacity.

Biography Professor Pasco Fearon is Professor of Family Research at the University Cambridge and director of the Centre for Family Research there. He is also a senior clinical psychologist at the Anna Freud National Centre for Children and Families. He is President of the Society for Emotion and Attachment Studies and a visiting fellow at the Child Study Center at Yale.

Abstract The holy grail of prevention research for children is the identification of effective target mechanisms that could promote emotional and cognitive outcomes, the creation of systems and procedures for leveraging those mechanisms to bring about change and, last but not least, related methods for sustaining those improvements over time. Observational and intervention studies have provided a wealth of good information about promising mechanisms to focus on, but our ability to reliably create change and sustain it over time lag far behind. In this talk, I will give an outline of work my colleagues and I have been doing to identify and target mechanisms implicated in children’s developmental outcomes. I will describe the thorny challenges we face in demonstrating impact and making change last. I will draw on results from several trials from high and low-middle income countries where targeting parental behaviour (a well evidenced target mechanism) either did not feed forward into impacts on child outcomes or early benefits faded with time. I will discuss possible explanations for these rather challenging outcomes and suggest some ways forward for future prevention research.

This talk is part of the Zangwill Club series.

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