Public Library of Science PLOS One: The iLookOut Research Study

Attached is the latest research article detailing the iLookOut Study and Program, Penn State, College of Medicine, Center for the Protection of Children:

Generalizing findings from a randomized controlled trial to a real-world study of the iLookOut, an online education program to improve early childhood care and education providers’ knowledge and attitudes about reporting child maltreatment


In recent years, real-world studies (RWS) are gaining increasing interests, because they can generate more realistic and generalizable results than randomized controlled clinical trials (RCT). In 2017, we published a RCT in 741 early childhood care and education providers (CCPs). It is the Phase I of our iLookOut for Child Abuse project (iLookOut), an online, interactive learning module about reporting suspected child maltreatment. That study demonstrated that in a RCT setting, the iLookOut is efficient at improving CCPs’ knowledge of and attitudes towards child maltreatment reporting. However, the generalizability of that RCT’s results in a RWS setting remains unknown. To address this question, we design and conduct this large RWS in 11,065 CCPs, which is the Phase II of the iLookOut. We hypothesize replication of the earlier RCT findings, i.e., the iLookOut can improve CCPs’ knowledge of and attitudes toward child maltreatment reporting in a real world setting. In addition, this RWS also explores whether demographic factors affect CCPs’ performance. Results of this RWS confirmed the generalizability of the previous RCT’s results in a real world setting. It yielded similar effect sizes for knowledge and attitudes as were found in the earlier RCT. Cohen’s d for knowledge improvement was 0.95 in that RCT, 0.96 in this RWS; Cohen’s d for attitude improvement was 0.98 in that RCT, 0.80 in this RWS. Also, we found several significant differences in knowledge and attitude improvement with regard to age, race, education, and employment status. In conclusion, iLookOut improves knowledge and attitudes of CCPs about child maltreatment prevention and reporting in a real-world setting. The generalizability of the initial RCT findings to this RWS provides strong evidence that the iLookout will be effective in other real world settings. It can be a useful model for other interventions aimed at preventing child maltreatment.

PLOS One Public Library of Science Research Article


About Dr Fiene

Dr. Rick Fiene has spent his professional career in improving the quality of child care in various states, nationally, and internationally. He has done extensive research and publishing on the key components in improving child care quality through an early childhood program quality indicator model of training, technical assistance, quality rating & improvement systems, professional development, mentoring, licensing, risk assessment, differential program monitoring, and accreditation. Dr. Fiene is a retired professor of human development & psychology (Penn State University) where he was department head and director of the Capital Area Early Childhood Research and Training Institute.
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