Home visiting programs are widely endorsed for preventing child maltreatment. Yet, knowledge is lacking on what and how individual program components are related to the effectiveness of these programs.
The aim of this meta-analysis was to increase this knowledge by summarizing findings on effects of home visiting programs on child maltreatment and by examining potential moderators of this effect, including a range of program components and delivery techniques.
A literature search yielded 77 studies (N=48,761) examining the effectiveness of home visiting programs, producing 174 effect sizes. In total, 35 different program components and delivery techniques were coded.
A small but significant overall effect was found (d=0.135, 95 % CI (0.084, 0.187), p<0.001). Programs that focused on improving parental expectations of the child or parenthood in general (d = 0.308 for programs with this component versus d = 0.112 for programs without this component), programs targeting parental responsiveness or sensitivity to a child's needs (d = 0.238 versus d = 0.064), and programs using video-based feedback (d = 0.397 versus d = 0.124) yielded relatively larger effects. Providing practical and instrumental assistance was negatively associated with program effectiveness (d=0.044 versus d = 0.168). Further, program effects were larger when percentages of non-Caucasians/non-Whites in samples and follow-up durations increased.
In general, home visiting programs can prevent child maltreatment only to a small extent. However, implementing specific components and techniques can improve program effectiveness. Copyright © 2021 The Author(s)
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