Understanding Our Impact

Evaluating—and strengthening—our role in pediatric care.

We conduct research that shines a light on the positive outcomes we help support and reveals new areas where we stand to benefit young children, their families, and our network. Research plays an important role in our model, ensuring that our programs remain relevant, are based in the latest scientific understanding of child development, and deliver the maximum impact for those we serve.

Reach Out and Read’s research priorities

We have identified a number of promising topic areas related to our model that we hope to explore more thoroughly through larger or longer-term research studies.

Language ability/school readiness

Independent, peer-reviewed studies have consistently indicated that Reach Out and Read improves language ability in young children.

Pediatric care compliance  

Participating families may be more likely to attend well-child checkups, resulting in more children receiving vaccinations on schedule.

Maternal depression 

A pilot study suggested that Reach Out and Read intervention reduces maternal depression in young, single mothers. 

Pediatrician well-being 

Evidence suggests that pediatricians who participate in Reach Out and Read experience less stress and reduced occurrences of burnout.

Young Investigator Awards 

Since 2011, Reach Out and Read has partially funded young investigators researching aspects of early literacy through the Young Investigator Awards program. Results of work supported by this program include:

Through brain imaging studies, John Hutton, M.D., demonstrated that when families read aloud and engage with their young children, there is increased development of regions of the brain associated with learning to read and higher thinking processes.

Using LENA, a device that digitally records and analyzes the number of words heard by young children, Adriana Weisleder, Ph.D., showed that Reach Out and Read stimulates an overall increase in the number of words and conversational turns between families and young children.

Anna Miller-Fitzwater, M.D., M.P.H., assessed the new training for residents on how to implement Reach Out and Read for children ages 0–6 months. Residents found the training applicable and practical, and that families were receptive to the concept.

> Click here for more details about the Young Investigator Awards

Rx for Success.

Rx for Success is a randomized controlled trial of technology-based dialogic reading training that is incorporated into Reach Out and Read that was completed in August 2019 – statistical analysis of the results is now underway. This study is designed to determine if additional messaging about sharing books from a specifically designed app increases the impact of Reach Out and Read on home literacy activities and children’s development.

If successful, the Rx for Success app would provide Reach Out and Read clinics a better way of delivering information about sharing books at a population level – thereby increasing our impact on the families and children that we serve.

Data from this study have provided valuable feasibility information and indicate that use of the app resulted in families reading aloud together more and improved language development. We will post more details about the results and implications as soon as we have them.

A collaborative research study.

In May 2016, Reach Out and Read medical advisors established a research collaborative of clinicians, researchers, and Reach Out and Read coordinators with the aim of taking our research to the next level.

This collaborative, named the Collaborative for Early Literacy and Brain Development in Primary Care (otherwise known as LitNet), has worked on developing and coordinating research projects, with a particular emphasis on large-scale network-based research that will further demonstrate the impact of our program.

With the first such research project launched in 2017, the LitNet study indicates that the Reach Out and Read online CME course is most effective at providing the knowledge and skills required to implement Reach Out and Read with fidelity to the model. As there is a significant pipeline of Reach Out and Read expansion coming from pediatric residents, this study provides valuable information as we seek to influence residency training to ensure high-quality delivery of the Reach Out and Read model.