2010 RTOI: Parent Action

August 17, 2010

One Year


Project Description:

BACKGROUND: The Learn the Signs Act Early campaign is a health education campaign focused on educating parents about developmental milestones and early warning signs of developmental delay and autism spectrum disorders.  The campaign aims to increase parent knowledge of developmental milestones so that when a child does not reach a specific milestone a parent will note this delay and take action seeking evaluation for that delay.   

PURPOSE:  The purpose of the study is to determine what barriers, motivators, and other factors influence a parent to act early on a concern that his/her child is not reaching developmental milestones.
The CDC/LTSAE team is interested in strategies that are successful in identifying circumstances, barriers and motivators to parent action when they have a concern about a developmental delay.  These identified barriers and motivators can then be used to modify LTSAE campaign strategies.  Researchers should consider both qualitative and quantitative methods to assess parent motivation.

Research could consider the following questions:

  • What is the effect of the child's age at time of initial positive screen on parental actions relating to diagnosis and early intervention?
  • What are the characteristics of the parents associated with action or inaction?
  • What are the environmental characteristics are associated with action or inaction?
  • What messages and information are most effective in encouraging parents to take action on concerns about their child's development or in response to a positive screen for developmental delay?

Successful applications will include the following:
1. Plans to identify families/caregivers of children who have developmental delays or disabilities. Identifying parents who have recently experienced the identification of a child with a delay and also parents who experienced this in the past should be considered.
2. Plans to include families/caregivers with diverse backgrounds
3. A clear description of the questions to be answered, the research design and an analytic plan. A timeline of activities should be provided
4. Description of benefits and barriers of identifying subjects and collecting data
5. Strategies to develop appropriate research methods (such as surveys and focus groups)
6. Anticipated participation rates for completion of research methods
7. Plans for submission of progress and final reports, and dissemination of findings
8. Detailed budget
9. Protection of human subjects

Preferences will be given to applicants who:
1. Demonstrate knowledge of and experiences with disability research, especially related to developmental delay
2. Have prior experience in understanding barriers and opportunities associated with early intervention systems
3. Knowledge and experience addressing factors in behavior change

Study Focus:
The Letter of Intent (LOI) should demonstrate the researchers have an understanding of the issues surrounding early identification of young children with developmental delays. The LOI should convey an understanding of parents and their interaction with systems that identify, assess and diagnose developmental delays. 


The research proposal should describe a research approach to understanding why parents do and don't act early when they suspect a delay and factors that might promote earlier action.    


The letter should:

  • provide an overview of the proposed research purpose, design and analytic plan,
  • clearly indicate the demonstrated experience in research design and analysis,
  • provide evidence of experience in recruitment of subjects

Evaluation Criteria:

  1. Provides evidence of knowledge of developmental disabilities and delays, such as early warning signs of autism spectrum disorders and related developmental disabilities; early intervention and special education systems and barriers to identification and diagnosis.
  2. Provide evidence of understanding of parents and caregivers and their motivations and resistance to acting upon a concern about a suspected developmental delay
  3. Outlines ideas for identifying and recruiting parents to participate in the study, with attention to diversity of backgrounds.
  4. Outlines methods for assessing barriers and motivators associated with parent action
  5. Specifies key stakeholders necessary for successful implementation or proposed activities.
  6. Outlines chosen research methods necessary for the project.
  7. Demonstrates experience in conducting disability research, including questionnaire design, focus group and survey implementation
  8. Have established physical resources and personnel to successfully conduct the research
  9. Have a reasonable timeline for each phase of the project.