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Long-term early intervention effects (Pak et al., 2023)

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posted on 2023-07-07, 21:30 authored by Natalie S. Pak, Jason C. Chow, Kelsey M. Dillehay, Ann P. Kaiser

Purpose: Early language and communication interventions for children with language impairments have been shown to be effective in assessments administered immediately after treatment. The purpose of the current systematic review and meta-analysis was to assess the overall durability of those effects over time and whether durability was related to outcome type, etiology of child language impairments, implementer of intervention, magnitude of posttest effects, time between intervention and follow-up, and study risk of bias.

Method: We conducted a systematic search of online databases and reference lists to identify experimental and quasi-experimental group design studies. All studies tested the effects of early communication interventions at least 3 months post-intervention. Participants were children 0–5 years old with language impairments. Coders identified study features and rated methodological quality indicators for all studies. Effect sizes at long-term timepoints and associations with potential moderators were estimated using multilevel meta-analysis with robust variance estimation.

Results: Twenty studies with 129 long-term outcome effect sizes met inclusion criteria. Studies included children with developmental language disorders or language impairment associated with autism. The overall average effect size was small and significant (g = .22, p = .002). Effect size estimates were larger for prelinguistic outcomes (g = .36, p < .001) than for linguistic outcomes (g = .14, p = .101). Significant factors were the posttest effect sizes, the risk of bias for randomized trials, and etiology of language impairment for linguistic outcomes. Time post-intervention did not significantly predict long-term effect sizes.

Conclusions: Outcomes of early language and communication interventions appear to persist for at least several months post-intervention. More research is needed with collection and evaluation of long-term outcomes, a focus on measurement, and consistency of primary study reporting.

Supplemental Material S1. PRISMA 2020 Checklist.

Supplemental Material S2. Studies meeting most but not all criteria.

Supplemental Material S3. References associated with included studies.

Supplemental Material S4. Sensitivity analyses for correlations among effects and long-term outcomes.

Supplemental Material S5. Funnel plots: all effects, prelinguistic effects, and linguistic effects.

Pak, N. S., Chow, J. C., Dillehay, K. M., & Kaiser, A. P. (2023). Long-term effects of early communication interventions: A systematic review and meta-analysis. Journal of Speech, Language, and Hearing Research, 66(8), 2884–2899.


This research was funded by a professional development grant (H325D180095, A. Kaiser, PI) from the U.S. Office of Special Education Programs and a graduate training fellowship from Peabody College at Vanderbilt University.