Track your baby’s development for free (and help researchers too)

Here’s an opportunity I’m excited to pass it on this summer: Researchers at Brock University and the Université de Montréal are seeking parents to help them validate an online version of the Parent Observation Checklist (POC). In exchange for filling out a monthly questionnaire, participants will receive expert feedback about their children’s development. Interested? Here are the details.

Who is eligible to participate in this online study?

Professor Maurice Feldman and his colleagues are looking for parents with a biological child between the age of 1 and 24 months. They are also interested in recruiting parents who are currently pregnant. Participants need to able to answer questions in English.

What is required from participants?

Each month, participants are asked to fill out an online, developmental questionnaire — the Parent Observation Checklist, or POC. As the research team explains:

“The POC consists of 61 items about your child’s development and behaviors. It takes about 15-20 minutes to complete it. We ask participants to complete the POC monthly until the child is 3 years old, but it is fine if a parent prefer to complete it less frequently. We will send participants a brief report about their child’s development after approximately three POC’s are completed. The multidisciplinary research team includes psychologists with expertise in child development.”

What are benefits for participating parents? Are there any risks?

Here’s what Professor Feldman’s team told me about benefits:

“You may benefit from your involvement in this study. You will be able to track your child’s development for free. You will receive regular feedback on your children’s scores. You will be alerted to seek guidance from the child’s family doctor or pediatrician if your child starts showing some developmental concerns on the Parent Observation Checklist. We hope you will feel good that your participation in this study will provide data about the early development in children and help to validate of an accessible online version of the Parent Observation Checklist as a developmental screening tool that eventually can be used by parents and health professionals.”

And here’s what they say about potential risks:

“There could be a small risk that you may feel distressed or anxious about the presence or absence of some behaviors in your child when you complete the Parent Observation Checklist. In our previous studies, no parent became overly anxious or concerned about their child’s scores and would heed the researcher’s advice to bring their child to their physician if POC scores were consistently concerning. As mentioned, there will be an item on the Parent Observation Checklist online form at the end reminding you that you can email Dr. Maurice Feldman with any questions you have about the child or yourself.”

What about issues of confidentiality?

The research team offers these assurances:

“All information you provide is considered confidential; your name and contact information will be stored separately from your questionnaire answers. Furthermore, you will not be identified individually in any way in presentations and written reports of this research. Access to your name and contact information and data collected (questionnaires) will be stored in a secured cloud server, accessible only to members of the research team that would include the investigators, students, and research assistants working on the project. Your name and contact information will be permanently deleted once we have completed data analysis and have no reason to contact you again, unless you give us separate permission to re-contact you for other studies. The data will be secured for approximately 10 years after completion of the study. At that time all electronic data will be permanently deleted from the cloud server, as well as any computer hard drives, remote drives and disks. While we do not plan to keep paper copies, if any paper copies are made, they also will be destroyed by shredding.”

Principal Investigator: Maurice Feldman, Ph.D., C.Psych., BCBA-D Professor, Dept. of Applied Disability Studies, Brock University

Co-Investigator 1: Tricia Vause, Ph.D., C.Psych., BCBA-D Associate Professor. Dept. of Child & Youth Studies and Applied Disability Studies, Brock University

Co-Investigator 2: Marc Lanovaz, Ph.D., BCBA-D Associate Professor, École de psychoéducation Université de Montréal

How to tell the researchers that you are interested

If you are ready to participate, or wish to learn more, visit this page of Professor Feldman’s lab website.

More information about opportunities to participate in research

Here at Parenting Science, I help researchers advertise their needs for parent-participants in online research. As you might expect, the researchers’ needs are time-sensitive, so advertisements can become outdated. For the most recent studies advertised, see this page.

Image credit: Father holding baby on lap while working at computer by SeventyFour / istock