Conduct problems in young children are common and costly, so there’s lots of interest in training programmes that can help parents and children cope better.
This new review from the Cochrane Developmental, Psychosocial and Learning Problems Group assesses the effectiveness and cost-effectiveness of behavioural and cognitive-behavioural group-based parenting programmes for improving child conduct problems, parental mental health and parenting skills.
The reviewers carried out the usual systematic and very comprehensive Cochrane search to find randomised controlled trials or quasi-randomised controlled trials of behavioural and cognitive-behavioural group-based parenting interventions for parents of children aged 3 to 12 years with conduct problems. They found 13 trials to include in their review, including a total of 1,078 participants.
Here’s what they found:
- Parent training produced a statistically significant reduction in child conduct problems, whether assessed by:
- parents (standardised mean difference (SMD) -0.53; 95% confidence interval (CI) -0.72 to -0.34)
- or independently assessed (SMD -0.44; 95% CI -0.77 to -0.11)
- The training improved:
- Parental mental health (SMD -0.36; 95% CI -0.52 to -0.20)
- Positive parenting skills, based on both parent reports (SMD -0.53; 95% CI -0.90 to -0.16) and independent reports (SMD -0.47; 95% CI -0.65 to -0.29)
- The training reduced:
- Negative or harsh parenting practices according to both parent reports (SMD -0.77; 95% CI -0.96 to -0.59) and independent assessments (SMD -0.42; 95% CI -0.67 to -0.16)
- The intervention demonstrated evidence of cost-effectiveness:
- When compared to a waiting list control group, there was a cost of approximately $2500 (GBP 1712; EUR 2217) per family to bring the average child with clinical levels of conduct problems into the non-clinical range.
The reviewers concluded:
Behavioural and cognitive-behavioural group-based parenting interventions are effective and cost-effective for improving child conduct problems, parental mental health and parenting skills in the short term. The cost of programme delivery was modest when compared with the long-term health, social, educational and legal costs associated with childhood conduct problems. Further research is needed on the long-term assessment of outcomes.
Furlong M, McGilloway S, Bywater T, Hutchings J, Smith SM, Donnelly M. Behavioural and cognitive-behavioural group-based parenting programmes for early-onset conduct problems in children aged 3 to 12 years. Cochrane Database of Systematic Reviews 2012, Issue 2. Art. No.: CD008225. DOI: 10.1002/14651858.CD008225.pub2.