Tweddle Research Partnerships, Publications and Papers

All Tweddle programs are underpinned by the evidence relating to the adverse impact on infants and toddlers who experience traumatic stress in the crucial early childhood development period.

According to Nobel Laureate Professor James Heckman, the basic skills needed for success are formed before children enter school. Investing early helps to prevent the achievement gap, and investing in disadvantaged children provides the greatest returns.

The parenting skill development and education service: Telehealth support for families at risk of child maltreatment during the COVID-19 pandemic

Abstract: Children are at heightened risk of maltreatment during community wide crises. The Parenting Skill Development and Education (PSDE) Service is a 6-week telehealth intervention designed and implemented during the COVID-19 pandemic to support families with young children in Australia at risk of child maltreatment. This study aimed to conduct a formative review of the PSDE service to (a) describe families accessing the PSDE during the pandemic, (b) determine parent and referrers’ satisfaction of the service and (c) explore clinicians’ experiences of service delivery.

You can access the published article here.

“We’re in the background”: Facilitators and barriers to fathers’ engagement and participation in a health intervention during the early parenting period.
Abstract: Little is known about the barriers and facilitators associated with engaging fathers in interventions targeting their physical and mental health. The current research therefore aimed to explore fathers’ perceived barriers and facilitators to engagement and participation in a health intervention delivered during the early parenting period. Eleven fathers of young children (0-4 years) were interviewed about their perceptions and experiences of facilitators and barriers to engaging and participating in an intervention (Working Out Dads) to target their mental and physical health. Interviews were recorded and transcribed. Transcripts were analysed using thematic analysis.
You can access the published article here.
COVID‐19 pandemic for families of infants involved with Child Protection Services for maltreatment concerns in Health and Social Care in the Community.

Abstract: The COVID-19 pandemic and associated physical distancing restrictions have exacerbated social, economic and health disadvantage within our communities. With increases in mental health difficulties and family violence already being seen, there is concern that the risk of child maltreatment risk may also be increased. The current study aimed to explore the experience of the COVID-19 pandemic for families identified to be at risk of child maltreatment in Victoria, Australia. Understanding the experiences of the pandemic for families already at risk is essential in identifying how to best support vulnerable parents and young children during this challenging time.

You can access the published article here.

‘Assisting clients experiencing family violence: Clinician and client survey responses in a child and family health service’

A ‘Strengthening Hospital Responses to Family Violence Project’ research study with the Royal Melbourne Hospital.

Abstract: To determine the baseline levels of training, knowledge and confidence working in the area of family violence in staff at a public child and maternal health service in Melbourne, Australia, as well as perceived staff barriers to working effectively in this area. This study also aimed to explore the client perception of existing screening practices. Family violence is a global concern with pregnancy and the postnatal period times of particularly high risk. Child and maternal health services are well placed to screen for violence, yet clinician and client perceptions of screening remain poorly characterised.

You can access the published article here.

‘An Infant Led Approach to Innovative Practice’

A paper was presented in October 2020 at the Australasian Marcé Society for Perinatal Mental Health. The title was ‘An Infant Led Approach to Innovative Practice’ and it described the positive outcomes of Tweddle’s Home Parenting Education Program (HoPES).

You can access the paper here.

Working Out Dads’ to promote men’s mental and physical health in early fatherhood: ‘A mixed-methods evaluation’

Abstract: Mental and physical health problems are common during early fatherhood. The current study aimed to assess a broad range of mental, physical and social outcomes for fathers of young children (aged 0–4 years) participating in a pilot evaluation of ‘Working Out Dads’ (WOD). These results were complemented by a nested qualitative study capturing the perceived outcomes for fathers. The sample consisted of 53 fathers who completed pre-, post- and 3-month follow-up measures. There were significant reductions in psychological distress, depression, anxiety and stress from pre- to post-intervention, which were maintained at 3-month follow-up. There were significant improvements in perceived vitality levels across all time points, and improvements in general physical health, social support and parenting self-efficacy from pre- to the 3-month follow-up. The nested qualitative results revealed that fathers and their partners perceived positive changes to paternal health, social support, parenting and the couple relationship. These findings contribute to the evidence-base for interventions targeting fathers’ health in the early years of their children’s lives. The current findings will be used to inform further development of WOD.

You can access the published article here.

Working out dads (WOD): a study protocol for a randomised controlled trial of a group-based peer support intervention for men experiencing mental health difficulties in early fatherhood

Tweddle partnered with Associate Professor Rebecca Giallo from the Murdoch Children’s Research Institute and research team who were awarded a Commonwealth Government Medical Research Future Fund – Million Minds Mission grant which will deliver collaborative research into suicide prevention among new dads and a rigorous evaluation of Tweddle’s Working Out Dads program.

Abstract: Approximately one in ten men experience mental health difficulties during the early years of fatherhood, and these can have negative impacts on children and families. However, few evidence-based interventions targeting fathers’ mental health are available. The aim of the trial is to evaluate the effectiveness and cost-effectiveness of Working Out Dads (WOD) – a facilitated peer support group intervention for fathers of young children, in reducing psychological distress and other mental health symptoms. This trial will employ a parallel-arm randomised controlled trial (RCT) to evaluate the effectiveness and cost effectiveness of WOD peer support group intervention compared to usual care (a 30-min mental health and service focused phone consultation with a health professional). A total of 280 fathers of young children (aged 0-4 years) who are experiencing mental health difficulties and/or are at risk of poor mental health will be recruited.

You can access the published article here.

A mixed-methods feasibility study of the Home Parenting Education and Support Program for families at risk of child maltreatment and recurrence in Australia

Abstract: A mixed-methods feasibility study of the Tweddle program, Home Parenting Education and Support Program (HoPES) for families at risk of child maltreatment and recurrence in Australia, has been published in the Science Direct journal, Child Abuse & Neglect. The HoPES program is an intensive 8-week home-visiting intervention for families of infants and young children (0–4 years) receiving child protection services or welfare services. The aims of the study, which involved 30 families and 8 Tweddle clinicians, were to explore parents’ and clinicians’ perceptions of the outcomes related to participation in HoPES, and to obtain preliminary data about potential intervention outcomes related to parent-child interactions, parent mental health, and parenting self-efficacy.

You can access the published article here.

A preliminary review of the parenting assessment and skill development service: A 10-day residential service for families at risk of child maltreatment

Abstract: Tweddle’s Parenting Assessment and Skill Development Service (PASDS) is a 10-day
residential programme for families at risk of child maltreatment. The service aims to conduct a comprehensive parenting capacity assessment to inform case management and improve parenting practices. The aims of the study were to (1) describe the psychosocial functioning of parents taking part in PASDS, (2) describe the key parenting
assessment outcomes, and (3) explore parents’ experiences of participation in PASDS including (a) perceived barriers and enablers of participation and (b) perceived outcomes for their family. Participants were 18 parents who participated in Tweddle’s PASDS in Melbourne, Australia. A mixed methods study comprising a case file review and qualitative interviews was conducted. Parents accessing PASDS had experienced adverse childhood events, and many were experiencing mental health difficulties. Interviews with parents revealed perceived benefits of PASDS in improving parenting knowledge and skills, family relationships, and parenting confidence. At the time of discharge, 33% of families were assessed as unable to provide independent care for their child. The current findings have important implications for the further evaluation of evidenced-based services which can improve the accuracy of parenting capacity assessments, aiding in child protection decision-making related to child placement and safety.

You can access the published article here

Research and Evidence – Early Years Investment

Zero to Three
Centre on The Developing Child – Harvard University
Adverse Childhood Experiences (ACE study)
The economics of Early Years Investment – Wave Trust

The impact of population growth on perinatal services

In November 2017, the impact of population growth on perinatal services was discussed at a Parliamentary hearing when Tweddle Australia presented to the Family and Community Development Committee. Here, Dr Nicole Milburn speaks about the challenges facing Early Parenting Centres and parents in the very early years.


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