10 year longitudinal evaluation of the Spilstead Model of milieu intervention

Kerry Gwynne, Kate Louise Angel, Gabrielle Duffy, Bijou Blick, Bronwyn Dowling, Gene Hodgins

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Although international research has defined best-practice intervention for children from vulnerable families as integrated and comprehensive, limited implementation and longitudinal evaluation of this approach has been conducted. The Spilstead Model (SM) of early years milieu intervention provides a uniquely integrated one stop shop model of care incorporating a comprehensive range of best-practice programs within a trauma-informed approach. Results from an initial evaluation involving 23 families (mean child age 3.7 years) indicated large effect size improvements 12 months post entry in family functioning as well as child development and emotional wellbeing (ES 0.8 -1.46, p < 0.001). This study aimed to evaluate the sustainability of these outcomes for both children and families via follow-up of the initial study co-hort 10 years post the initial evaluation. The study targeted families who participated in the original evaluation. Clinician and parent-rated adolescent measures paralleled the original assessments of parent, child and family functioning. Qualitative evaluation was also conducted via a semi-structured interview with parents. 83% of the original sample participated. Mean youth age was 13.2 years. Results indicated sustained improvements in parent-child relationship, child-wellbeing and reduction of parent stress with large effect size (1.14 – 1.92 p < 0.001). On average 73% of the adolescents scored within the normal range on each measure of functioning. Few had repeated school grades or been suspended. None had been arrested. Emerging themes from the qualitative evaluation confirmed the value of the integrated model. The results further support the value of the one stop shop Spilstead Model and have the potential to inform international policy and practice.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)699-715
Number of pages17
JournalJournal of Child and Adolescent Trauma
Issue number3
Early online date29 Apr 2023
Publication statusPublished - Sept 2023


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