The purpose of this review was to assess the available research evidence on the effects of early family/parent training on child behavior problems including antisocial behavior and delinquency and to investigate in which settings and under what conditions it is most effective.
Seven search strategies were employed to identify 55 studies meeting the criteria for inclusion in this review:
- Researchers performed a key word search on an array of online abstact databases.
- Reseachers reviewed the bibliographies of previous reviews of early family/parent training programs.
- Researchers performed forward searches for works that have cited seminal studies in this area.
- Researchers performed hand searches of leading journals in the field.
- Researchers searched the publications of several research and professional agencies.
- After completing the above searches and reviewing previous reviews, researchers contacted scholars in various disciplines who were knowledgeable in the specific area of early family/parent training.
- Researchers consulted with information specialists at the outset of the review and at points along the way in order to ensure that the appropriate search strategies were used.
Both published and unpublished reports were considered in the searches. Searches were international in scope.
The eligibility criteria were as follows:
- Types of Studies: The study must have used a randomized controlled experimental design. The study must have included at least one child-based behavioral outcome measure such as general behavior problems, antisocial behavior, delinquency, etc.
- Types of Participants: The review was primarily limited to families with a child under age 5 or the mean age of the sample was approximately age 5 at the start of of the intervention to ensure that the interventions were provided early in the child's life. Selected interventions could target either the general population (universal intervention) or a high-risk group (selective intervention).
- Type of Intervention: Studies were eligible for this review when parent training or support was a major component of the intervention.
- Types of Outcomes: The original aim of the review was to assess the impact of the intervention on the children's delinquent behavior. However, since only a few studies assess delinquency, the scope was expanded to include studies with outcome measures of childhood behavior problems as well. These assessments included parent-, teacher-, and/or direct observer-rated measures of child behavior problems.
- Sufficient Data: The study had to provide adequate data for calculating an effect size if one was not provided. In addition, studies that failed to provide any information on the sample size for either the treated or control groups for which their analysis was based on were also excluded.
- There were no restrictions to time frame, other than researchers began with the first study identified by Bernazzani et al. (2001).
- There were no geographic restrictions.
- Studies needed to be published in English.
All published and unpublished studies examining the effects early family/parent training programs on childhood delinquency and other behavioral problems before 2007.
The following databases were searched:
- Criminal Justice Periodical Index
- Criminal Justice Abstracts
- National Criminal Justice Reference Services (NCJRS) Abstracts
- Sociological Abstracts
- Social Science Abstracts (SocialSciAbs)
- Social Science Citation Index
- Dissertation Abstracts
- Government Publications Office, Monthly Catalog (GPO Monthly)
- C2 SPECTR (The Campbell Collaboration Social, Psychological, Educational and Criminological Trials Register)
- Austrailian Criminology Database (CINCH)
- Web of Knowledge
- IBSS (International Bibliography of the Social Sciences)
- Future of Children (publications)
The following keywords were used to search the databases listed above:
- "Parent Training" AND "childhood" OR "pre-school" AND "delinquency" OR "conduct disorder" OR "anitsocial behavior" OR "aggression" OR "physical aggression" OR "behavior problems".
- "Family Training" AND "childhood" OR "pre-school" AND "delinquency" OR "conduct disorder" OR "antisocial behavior" OR "aggression" OR "physical aggression" OR "behavior problems".
The publications of the following groups were searched:
- Washington State Institute for Public Policy
- Institute for Law and Justice
- Vera Institute of Justice
- Rand Corporation
The following agencies' publications were searched and the agencies were contacted if necessary:
- Home Office (United Kingdom)
- Australian Institute of Criminology
- Swedish National Council for Crime Prevention
- Cochrane Library
- SAMHSA (Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration)
- Institute of Medicine
- American Psychiatric Association
- OJJDP (Office of Juvenile Justice & Delinquency Prevention)
- Youth Justice Board, Department of Health and Department of Children, Schools, and Families (United Kingdom)
- NICE (National Institute for Health and Clinical Excellence) United Kingdom
- National Children's Bureau (which publishes "Child Data Abstracts")
All eligible studies were coded on a variety of criteria including:
- Reference information (title, authors, publication year, etc.)
- Nature and description of selection of sample, outcomes, etc.
- Nature and description of control group
- Unit of analyisis
- Sample size
- Methodological type
- Description of the family/parent intervention
- Dosage intensity and type
- Implementation difficulties
- Statistical test(s) used
- Reports of statistical significance (if any)
- Effect size/power (if any)
- Conclusions drawn by the authors