The Together study: a study to promote family wellbeing
The Fathers Together study came about as an 'off-shoot' of a large study called The Together study. Professor Richard Watt leads both the studies and many of us on Fathers Together are involved in both.
The Together study focuses on community settings (rather than prisons) and is looking to evaluate the parenting programme, called Strengthening Families, Strengthening Communities to assess whether it can support family wellbeing. The study specifically focuses on families with children aged 3 and above and those from Black and minority ethnic groups living in deprived areas.
The best way to examine whether the programme works is for half the parents taking part in the study to have the parenting programme sooner and the other half to wait a bit longer (~9 months) while able to access most usual services (an active waitlist). The time a parent will wait is decided by a computer and parents involved in the study have an equal chance of either to ensure there is an even mix of parents in each group. This type of study approach is called a Randomised Controlled Trial (RCT) and means the study can properly compare parents who get the programme with a similar group of parents who do not. Randomised Controlled Trials like this are commonly used in many medical and health (including public health) research projects and is considered the ‘gold-standard’ (when conducted appropriately).
The study team recently published a paper outlining the research approach and plans ('protocol'). The Together study website also has some useful information and webinars if you were interested to hear more. Findings will be published sometime in 2024 which is be useful to understand the role of parenting programmes to support families - and will be useful for informing our work in prisons too.