There is a lack of knowledge about specific components that make interventions effective in preventing or reducing child maltreatment. The aim of the present meta-analysis was to increase this knowledge by summarizing findings on effects of interventions for child maltreatment and by examining potential moderators of this effect, such as intervention components and study characteristics.
Identifying effective components is essential for developing or improving child maltreatment interventions. A literature search yielded 121 independent studies (N = 39,044) examining the effects of interventions for preventing or reducing child maltreatment. From these studies, 352 effect sizes were extracted. The overall effect size was significant and small in magnitude for both preventive interventions (d = 0.26, p < .001) and curative interventions (d = 0.36, p < .001).
Cognitive behavioral therapy, home visitation, parent training, family-based/multisystemic, substance abuse, and combined interventions were effective in preventing and/or reducing child maltreatment. For preventive interventions, larger effect sizes were found for short-term interventions (0-6 months), interventions focusing on increasing self-confidence of parents, and interventions delivered by professionals only.
Further, effect sizes of preventive interventions increased as follow-up duration increased, which may indicate a sleeper effect of preventive interventions. For curative interventions, larger effect sizes were found for interventions focusing on improving parenting skills and interventions providing social and/or emotional support. Interventions can be effective in preventing or reducing child maltreatment. Theoretical and practical implications are discussed.
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