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Home > Group-based parent training programmes for improving parental psychosocial health.

Barlow, Jane and Smailagic, Nadja and Huband, Nick and Roloff, Verena and Bennett, Cathy [Campbell Systematic Reviews] . (2012) Group-based parent training programmes for improving parental psychosocial health. Coventry: The Campbell Collaboration. Campbell Systematic Reviews, 8 (15) 197 p. DOI:10.4073/csr.2012.15

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Parental psychosocial health can have a significant effect on the parent-child relationship, with consequences for the later psychological health of the child. Some parenting programmes aim to improve aspects of parental wellbeing and this review specifically looked at whether group-based parenting programmes are effective in improving any aspects of parental psychosocial health (for example, anxiety, depression, guilt, confidence).

We searched electronic databases for randomised controlled trials in which participants had been allocated to an experimental or a control group, and which reported results from at least one scientifically standardised measure of parental psychosocial health.
We included a total of 48 studies that involved 4937 participants and covered three types of programme: behavioural, cognitive-behavioural and multimodal. Overall, the results suggested statistically significant improvements in the short-term for parental depression, anxiety, stress, anger, guilt, confidence and satisfaction with the partner relationship. However, only stress and confidence continued to be statistically significant at six month follow-up, and none were significant at one year. There was no evidence of effectiveness for self-esteem at any time point. None of the studies reported aggression or adverse outcomes.

Only four studies reported the outcomes for fathers separately. These limited data showed a statistically significant short-term improvement in paternal stress but did not show whether the parenting programmes were helpful in terms of improving depressive symptoms, confidence or partner satisfaction.

This review shows evidence of the short-term benefits of parenting programmes on depression, anxiety, stress, anger, guilt, confidence and satisfaction with the partner relationship. The findings suggest that further input may be needed to support parents to maintain these benefits. However, more research is needed that explicitly addresses the benefits for fathers, and that provides evidence of the comparative effectiveness of different types of programme and identifies the mechanisms involved in bringing about change.


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