Period of PURPLE Crying

Scientific Rating:
3
Promising Research Evidence
See scale of 1-5
Child Welfare System Relevance Level:
Medium
See descriptions of 3 levels

About This Program

The information in this program outline is provided by the program representative and edited by the CEBC staff. Period of PURPLE Crying has been rated by the CEBC in the area of: Prevention of Child Abuse and Neglect (Primary) Programs.

Target Population: All mothers and fathers of infants up to 5 months of age and society in general in their understanding of early increased infant crying and shaken baby syndrome

For parents/caregivers of children ages: 0 – 0

Brief Description

The Period of PURPLE Crying program is the name given to the Shaken Baby Syndrome (SBS) prevention program developed by National Center on Shaken Baby Syndrome. The program educates parents and caretakers on normal infant crying, the most common trigger for shaking an infant. It was designed to be used primarily in universal, primary prevention settings, but is applicable to secondary prevention as well.

The letters in PURPLE stand for the common properties of crying, including unsoothable crying, in infants during the first few months:

  • Peak pattern (crying peaks around 2 months, then decreases)
  • Unpredictable (crying for long periods can come and go for no reason)
  • Resistant to soothing (the baby may keep crying for long periods)
  • Pain-like look on face
  • Long bouts of crying (crying can go on for hours)
  • Evening crying (baby cries more in the afternoon and evening)

The other important word in the name is “period,” letting parents and caregivers know there is a beginning and ending to the infant crying phase. The program includes a full color 10-page booklet, parent reminder card, a 10-minute PURPLE Crying video and a 17-minute Crying, Soothing, Coping: Doing What Comes Naturally video intended to be given to parents of new infants. The program materials are available in two formats: DVD with booklet package or web and mobile application with booklet package. The program also contains a public media component aimed at changing cultural attitudes about crying, especially inconsolable crying.

Program Goals:

The overall goals of the Period of PURPLE Crying program are:

  • Support caregivers in their understanding of early increased infant crying
  • Reduce the incidence of shaken baby syndrome/abusive head trauma

Essential Components

The essential components of the Period of PURPLE Crying program include:

  • Approaches prevention through thoughtfully designed positive messages about normal infant development, specifically, crying in normal infants with an emphasis on the dangers of shaking, rather than just being limited to warnings of the negative consequences of shaking
  • Aims to be educational, attractive and relevant to all caregivers
  • Aims to bring about a cultural change in understanding of infant crying both for caregivers and the general public
  • Aims to increase program “penetration rates” to new parents and be widely acceptable to health care professionals and groups disseminating the intervention
  • Provides program materials that are presented at a grade 3 language level, translated into eleven languages and includes closed captioning for the hearing impaired on the English version, to take home to review and share with others

Parent/Caregiver Services

Period of PURPLE Crying directly provides services to parents/caregivers and addresses the following:

  • Parents and caregivers of a newborn

Delivery Settings

This program is typically conducted in a(n):

  • Birth Family Home
  • Hospital
  • Primary Care Settings Serving Children

Homework

Period of PURPLE Crying includes a homework component:

All families are encouraged to review and share the program materials with other family members and caregivers of their baby.

Languages

Period of PURPLE Crying has materials available in languages other than English:

Arabic, Cantonese, French, Japanese, Korean, Portuguese, Punjabi, Somali, Spanish, Vietnamese

Close captioning for the hearing impaired is available on the English version.

For information on which materials are available in these languages, please check on the program's website or contact the program representative (contact information is listed at the bottom of this page).

Resources Needed to Run Program

The typical resources for implementing the program are:

Materials provided by the National Center on Shaken Baby Syndrome and Internet access.

Minimum Provider Qualifications

There are no educational requirements, but the provider must take the training online or in person and be in a position where they have authority to give programs to new parents. The provider should protect the fidelity of the program by complying with the protocol required.

Education and Training Resources

There is a manual that describes how to implement this program, and there is training available for this program.

Training Contact:
Training is obtained:

Period of PURPLE Crying Training for Implementation is available at training.dontshake.org. Nursing and Social Work Continued Education (CEU) Contact Hours available

Number of days/hours:

1 Hour

Implementation Information

Since Period of PURPLE Crying is rated on the Scientific Rating Scale, information was requested from the program representative on available pre-implementation assessments, implementation tools, and/or fidelity measures.

Show implementation information...

Pre-Implementation Materials

There are no pre-implementation materials to measure organizational or provider readiness for Period of PURPLE Crying.

Formal Support for Implementation

There is formal support available for implementation of Period of PURPLE Crying as listed below:

The National Center on Shaken Baby Syndrome (NCSBS) has a designated PURPLE team to provide ongoing technical assistance to all partners implementing as well as leadership teams with jurisdiction-wide initiatives and programs. Additionally, the entire staff at the NCSBS is educated about the program and representative staff offer assistance in marketing, public education campaigns, online training modules, research, outreach, and customization of design assets.

Fidelity Measures

There are fidelity measures for Period of PURPLE Crying as listed below:

The evaluation tools are available upon request and consist of a Public Health evaluation form, maternity nurse interview questions, public health nurse interview questions, and parent interview questions.

Implementation Guides or Manuals

There are implementation guides or manuals for Period of PURPLE Crying as listed below:

There is an implementation protocol, a 14-chapter, 83-page implementation and management guidebook and an implementation checklist that are available through the PURPLE team at purple@dontshake.org or 801-447-9360.

Research on How to Implement the Program

Research has been conducted on how to implement Period of PURPLE Crying as listed below:

Nocera, M., Shanahan, M., Murphy, R. A., Sullivan, K. M., Barr, M., Price, J., & Zolotor, A. (2016). A statewide nurse training program for a hospital based infant abusive head trauma prevention program. Nurse Education in Practice, 16(1), e1-e6.

Relevant Published, Peer-Reviewed Research

This program is rated a "3 - Promising Research Evidence" on the Scientific Rating Scale based on the published, peer-reviewed research available. The practice must have at least one study utilizing some form of control (e.g., untreated group, placebo group, matched wait list study) establishing the practice's benefit over the placebo, or found it to be comparable to or better than an appropriate comparison practice. Please see the Scientific Rating Scale for more information.

Child Welfare Outcome: Child/Family Well-Being

Show relevant research...

Barr, R. G., Rivara, F. P., Barr, M., Cummings, P., Taylor, J., Lengua, L. J., & Meredith-Benitz, E. (2009). Effectiveness of educational materials designed to change knowledge and behaviors regarding crying and shaken baby syndrome in mothers of newborns: A randomized controlled trial. Pediatrics, 123(3), 972-980. doi:10.1542/peds.2008-0908 

Type of Study: Randomized controlled trial
Number of Participants: 2,738

Population:

  • Age — 18-55 years
  • Race/Ethnicity — Not specified
  • Gender — 100% Female
  • Status — Participants were mothers recruited from prenatal classes, maternity wards and pediatric offices.

Location/Institution: Washington State

Summary: (To include comparison groups, outcomes, measures, notable limitations)
Mothers were randomly assigned to receive either the Period of PURPLE Crying materials or information on infant safety and safe sleep. Some mothers received materials prenatally and some at pediatric sites. Knowledge was assessed with a baseline interview. Mothers were also given a diary to complete during the fifth week. At two months, postintervention knowledge was assessed. Mothers receiving the Period of PURPLE Crying intervention showed higher knowledge scores about crying and shaking the baby, more positive reported behavioral responses to crying, and more likelihood of sharing information with other caregivers about walking away and the dangers of shaking. They also reported more minutes of contact during crying. However, rates of picking up the baby, walking away when distressed, and daily frustration scores were not different across groups. The intervention group reported longer periods of distress in their babies than the control group. The authors speculate that increased reports of distress may be a result of the focus on crying in the Period of PURPLE Crying materials, but suggest that this result needs to be followed up. Limitations include generalizability due to gender, reliability on self-reported measures, missing data and length of follow-up.

Length of postintervention follow-up: 2 months.

Barr, R. G., Barr, M., Fujiwara, T., Conway, J., Catherine, N., & Brant, R. (2009). Do educational materials change knowledge and behavior about crying and shaken baby syndrome? A randomized controlled trial. Canadian Medical Association Journal, 180(7), 727–733. doi:10.1503/cmaj.081419 

Type of Study: Randomized controlled trial
Number of Participants: 1,279 mothers

Population:

  • Age — At least 25 years
  • Race/Ethnicity — Not specified
  • Gender — 100% Female
  • Status — Participants were recruited from hospitals in the Greater Vancouver Area, British Columbia, between May 2005 and November 2006, who had an uneventful pregnancy, a healthy singleton infant (> 37 weeks’ gestation), access to a DVD player and who were fluent in English.

Location/Institution: Greater Vancouver Area, British Columbia

Summary: (To include comparison groups, outcomes, measures, notable limitations)
This study focused on 1,279 mothers who received materials from the Period of PURPLE Crying program or control materials during a home visit by a nurse by 2 weeks after the birth of their child. At 5 weeks, the mothers completed a diary to record their behavior and their infants’ behavior. Two months after giving birth, the mothers completed a telephone survey to assess their knowledge and behavior. Results indicated knowledge about infant crying was greater among mothers who received the Period of PURPLE Crying materials than among mothers who received the control materials. Additionally compared with mothers who received control materials, mothers who received the Period of PURPLE Crying materials reported sharing information about walking away if frustrated more often, the dangers of shaking, and infant crying. Walking away during inconsolable crying was significantly higher among mothers who received the Period of PURPLE Crying materials than among those who received control materials. Limitations included generalizability due to gender reliability of self-reported measures, missing data may and length of follow-up.

Length of postintervention follow-up: 6 weeks.

Fujiwara, T., Yamada, F., Okuyama, M., Kamimaki, I., Shikoro, N., & Barr, R. G. (2012). Effectiveness of educational materials designed to change knowledge and behavior about crying and shaken baby syndrome: A replication of a randomized controlled trial in Japan. Child Abuse & Neglect, 36(9), 613-620. doi:10.1016/j.chiabu.2012.07.003

Type of Study: Randomized controlled trial
Number of Participants: 201

Population:

  • Age — 25-35 years
  • Race/Ethnicity — 100% Japanese
  • Gender — 100% Female
  • Status — Participants were new mothers who received the Period of PURPLE Crying intervention.

Location/Institution: Japan

Summary: (To include comparison groups, outcomes, measures, notable limitations)
This goal of the current study was to assess the effectiveness of Period of PURPLE Crying on newborn mothers. Participants received either PURPLE materials or analogous control materials on infant safety via mail within 2 weeks of birth. Measures utilized included a telephone questionnaire, and the Baby’s Day Diary. Results indicate scores on crying knowledge scales were significantly higher in the Period of PURPLE Crying group than control group. Percentage of sharing of advice to walk away if frustrated by crying was significantly higher in the Period of PURPLE Crying group than control group. Walking away during unsoothable crying was significantly higher in the Period of PURPLE Crying group than controls by diary. Self-talk behavior scale tended to significance in the Period of PURPLE Crying group. Limitations include generalizability to other ethnic populations and lack of follow-up.

Length of postintervention follow-up: None.

Reese, L. S., Heiden, E. O., Kim, K. Q., & Yang, J. (2014). Evaluation of Period of PURPLE Crying, an abusive head trauma prevention program. Journal of Obstetric, Gynecologic, & Neonatal Nursing, 43(6), 752-761. doi:10.1111/1552-6909.12495 

Type of Study: Posttest Only
Number of Participants: 258 (211 mothers and 47 nurses)

Population:

  • Age — 16-41 years
  • Race/Ethnicity — Not specified
  • Gender — 100% Female
  • Status — Participants were new mothers who received the Period of PURPLE Crying intervention and the nurses who delivered the program.

Location/Institution: Midwest

Summary: (To include comparison groups, outcomes, measures, notable limitations)
This study demonstrated the feasibility of implementing Period of PURPLE Crying in five hospitals. Measures utilized included a survey at the end of each nurse-delivered in-person education session. Results indicate new mothers rated the program as useful, and the program was effective in teaching mothers about normal infant crying, the dangers of infant shaking, and soothing and coping techniques. Limitations include nonrandomization of participants, lack of control group, and length of follow-up.

Length of postintervention follow-up: 2 months.

Zolotor, A. J., Runyan, D. K., Shanahan, M., Durrance, C. P., Nocera, M., Sullivan, K., ... Barr, R. G. (2015). Effectiveness of a statewide abusive head trauma prevention program in North Carolina. JAMA Pediatrics, 169(12), 1126-1131. doi:10.1001/jamapediatrics.2015.2690

Type of Study: Pretest-posttest with comparison states
Number of Participants: 405,060 parents

Population:

  • Age — Not Specified
  • Race/Ethnicity — Not Specified
  • Gender — Not Specified
  • Status — Participants were new mothers who received the Period of PURPLE Crying intervention and the nurses who delivered the program.

Location/Institution: North Carolina

Summary: (To include comparison groups, outcomes, measures, notable limitations)
This goal of the current study was to assess the effectiveness of Period of PURPLE Crying on preventing abusive head trauma (AHT) in infants. Measures utilized included a survey at the end of each nurse-delivered in-person education session. Results indicate after implementation of the Period of PURPLE Crying intervention, the number of telephone calls to a nurse advice line, especially those regarding infants younger than 3 months, significantly declined. However, no reduction in state-level AHT rates was identified using a difference-in-difference analysis to compare AHT rates in North Carolina with AHT rates in 5 selected comparison states over time, controlling for 2 economic indicators. Limitations include nonrandomization of participants and lack of follow-up.

Length of postintervention follow-up: Not Specified

Barr, R. G., Rajabali, F., Aragon, M., Colbourne, M., & Brant, R. (2015). Education about crying in normal infants is associated with a reduction in pediatric emergency room visits for crying complaints. Journal of Developmental & Behavioral Pediatrics, 36(4), 252-257. doi:10.1097/DBP.0000000000000156

Type of Study: Pretest-posttest study
Number of Participants: 30,790 (visits) – data set

Population:

  • Age — 0-5 months
  • Race/Ethnicity — Not Specified
  • Gender — Not Specified
  • Status — Participants were infants in the medical emergency room due to crying.

Location/Institution: BC Children’s Hospital (BCCH) – Vancouver, British Columbia

Summary: (To include comparison groups, outcomes, measures, notable limitations)
The primary aim of this study was to determine whether there was any change in visits of 0- to 5-month old infants to the medical emergency room (MER) of a metropolitan pediatric hospital after province-wide implementation of a Period of Purple Crying. Measures utilized were electronic free-text records of Presenting Complaint, Final Diagnosis, and Disposition for each medical emergency room (MER) visit. Results indicate there was an associated significant reduction of almost 30% in MER visits for cases of crying and colic in the 3 years after implementation of the program in maternity wards and public health units across the province of British Columbia. Furthermore, the most significant reductions were for crying complaints during the first 3 months of life. Limitations include lack of randomization, lack of follow-up, and lack of control group.

Length of postintervention follow-up: Not Specified

References

Barr, R. G. (2006). Crying behaviour and its importance for psychosocial development in children. In: Tremblay R. E., Barr R. G., Peters R. D., eds. Encyclopedia on Early Childhood Development[online]. Montreal, Quebec: Centre of Excellence for Early Childhood Development. Retrieved from this link.

Barr, R. G. (2012). Preventing abusive head trauma resulting from a failure of normal interaction between infants and their caregivers. Proceedings from the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America, 109, Suppl 2, 17294-17301.

Lee, C., Barr, R. G., Catherine, N., & Wicks, A. (2007). Age-related incidence of publicly reported Shaken Baby Syndrome cases: Is crying a trigger for shaking? Journal of Developmental and Behavioral Pediatrics, 28(4), 288-293.

Contact Information

Name: Julie Noble
Title: Program Director
Agency/Affiliation: National Center on Shaken Baby Syndrome
Website: www.dontshake.org
Email:
Phone: (801) 447-9360 x109
Fax: (801) 447-9364

Date Research Evidence Last Reviewed by CEBC: August 2016

Date Program Content Last Reviewed by Program Staff: April 2016

Date Program Originally Loaded onto CEBC: February 2008