Predicting treatment time with the Lidcombe Program: Replication and meta-analysis

Mary Kingston*, Anna Huber, Mark Onslow, Mark Jones, Ann Packman

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleResearchpeer-review

80 Citations (Scopus)


Background: The benefits of treating stuttering close to onset have become obvious in recent years, and the Lidcombe Program has emerged as an effective and safe treatment method for children in their preschool years. The benefits of implementing the programme with young children, however, need to be weighed against the knowledge that many children recover from stuttering without treatment. In light of this, speech-language therapists need to know how long treatment is likely to take and whether treatment time can be predicted. In particular, they need to know if adopting a 'watchful waiting' approach - to see if natural recovery occurs - jeopardizes responsiveness to treatment. A recent Australian study of 250 preschool-age children found that stuttering rate was the only significant predictor of treatment time with the Lidcombe Program. In other words, children whose stuttering was more severe took longer to pass through the programme. There were other trends in the data but they did not reach significance. Aims: The present study, conducted independently in the UK, was designed to replicate the Australian study. Direct replication enabled pooling of the data from the two studies in a meta-analysis. Methods & Procedures: The study included 66 children who began treatment before 6 years of age. They were treated with the Lidcombe Program at a specialist stuttering clinic in Norwich. Logistic regression analyses were conducted on the data. The data from both the British and Australian cohorts were pooled in a meta-analysis. Outcomes & Results: Results indicated that Stage 1 of the Lidcombe Program was completed in a median of 11 clinic visits, which is in line with the findings of the Australian study. Stuttering rate at first clinic visit was again found to be a significant predictor of treatment time. The remaining data trends were similar to those in the Australian data. In the meta-analysis, stuttering rate was once more found to be a predictor of treatment time. Of particular interest, however, was that the increased power provided by the meta-analysis identified an additional predictor, namely onset-to-treatment interval. Contrary to what is known about the responsiveness of children to the Starkweather and Gottwald treatment, and contrary to what might be expected given what we know about natural recovery, children who had been stuttering for more than 12 months took less time to progress through the programme than children who had been stuttering for less than 12 months. Conclusions: These findings indicate that delaying intervention with the Lidcombe Program for 1 year after onset, within the preschool years, is unlikely to jeopardize responsiveness to treatment. The clinical implications of these findings are discussed.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)165-177
Number of pages13
JournalInternational Journal of Language and Communication Disorders
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - Apr 2003
Externally publishedYes


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