The Effects of Parent-Implemented Language Interventions on Child Linguistic Outcomes: A Meta-Analysis

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Intervening early is important to minimize persistent difficulties in language and related domains in young children with or at-risk for language impairment (LI; Rescorla, 2009). Because language is first learned in caregiver–child interactions, parent-implemented interventions are potentially an important early intervention for children with or at-risk for LI. Previous meta-analyses have examined outcomes of parent-implemented interventions for children with primary and secondary LI, but have not included children at-risk for LI due to low SES. A systematic review of the literature identified 25 randomized controlled trials of parent-implemented language interventions examining linguistic outcomes for young children. Studies included 1734 participants (M = 3.7 years) with or at-risk for LI due to low SES. Results of these meta-analyses indicated modest improvements in expressive vocabulary and small improvements in expressive language for children with or at-risk for LI. The effect size for expressive vocabulary outcomes was significant for shared book reading interventions (g = 0.37, 95% CI [0.15–0.59]) and interventions implemented in play and/or routines (g = 0.50, 95% CI [0.05–0.95]). The effect size for expressive language was significant (g = 0.42, 95% CI [0.19–0.65]), but not for receptive language (g = 0.07, ns), and the effect size for receptive vocabulary was not significant (g = 0.18, ns). Sub-group analyses for expressive vocabulary and expressive language indicated moderate to large significant effects for children with or at-risk for primary LI and smaller, non-significant effects for children with Autism Spectrum Disorder. Findings are generally consistent with a previous meta-analysis (Roberts and Kaiser, 2011), indicating parent-implemented language interventions may have positive effects on linguistic outcomes for young children with or at-risk for LI. Limited measures of parent training procedures and varied measures of parent outcomes limited the analysis of how child outcomes were achieved.