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Evidence-based early-years intervention inquiry launched

26 October 2017

The Science and Technology Committee will examine the strength of the evidence linking adverse childhood experiences with long-term negative outcomes, the evidence base for related interventions, whether evidence is being used effectively in policy-making, and the support and oversight for research into this area.

Norman Lamb MP, Chair, said:

"Adverse childhood experiences can have a huge impact on an individual in later life. We are concerned that research into this area may not be being effectively used when creating health policy and other support arrangements."

"US research has found that adverse experiences during childhood – such as physical, emotional, and sexual abuse – can negatively impact on health outcomes later in life. By truly understanding the effects of adverse childhood experiences we may be better prepared here in the UK to prevent and treat mental health conditions, and reduce other problems associated these experiences, including in education, employment and criminal justice. Doing so would benefit at-risk children, adults affected by earlier bad experiences, the NHS and, ultimately, UK taxpayers."

Terms of Reference

'Adverse childhood experiences' range from psychological, physical, or sexual abuse to wider experiences of household dysfunction. Such experiences can have negative impact in later life, in areas such as mental and physical health, educational attainment, employment and involvement with the criminal justice system.

However, the Early Intervention Foundation has highlighted a “significant gap between what is known to be effective from peer-reviewed studies and what is delivered in local child protection systems”.

The 2016 Five Year Forward View for Mental Health recommended that the Department of Health, with others, "include a coordinated plan for strengthening and developing the research pipeline on identified priorities, and promoting implementation of research evidence".

Submit written evidence

You can submit written evidence through the evidence-based early-years intervention inquiry page.

The Committee would welcome written submissions by 8 December 2017 on current research into ‘adverse childhood experiences', the extent of the evidence linking them to negative outcomes in later life and relevant educational, social and health interventions, as well as the extent to which this research is supported and used by Government. Specifically:

  • the evidence-base (including overseas experiences) for the link between adverse childhood experiences and long-term negative outcomes, and any gaps in that evidence base, as well as data on which specific adverse childhood experiences produce greatest adverse impact;
  • the quality of the existing evidence-base for specific early-years interventions that aim to address adverse childhood experiences and minimise their effects in later life;
  • the extent to which local and national government policies for early-years intervention reflect that evidence-base, and the challenges involved in disseminating, accessing and using the latest evidence, as well as the opportunities for intervention suggested by the evidence but not currently being implemented;
  • the support and oversight of research into adverse childhood experiences and relevant interventions, including how research priorities are identified and funded, and the extent to which current interventions are reviewed and contribute to the evidence-base; and
  • mechanisms for bringing together the collection, communication, application and review of evidence to ensure interventions are evidence-based.

Further information

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