Stimulation Interventions and Parenting in Low- and Middle-Income Countries: A Meta-analysis

Stimulation Interventions and Parenting in Low- and Middle-Income Countries: A Meta-analysis

Jeong, J. Pitchik, H. O. Yousafzai, A. K.
CONTEXT: Early childhood stimulation interventions positively impact early child development (ECD) outcomes in low- and middle-income countries. However, trials have less comprehensively evaluated the effects of such parenting programs on caregivers' skills and capacities. OBJECTIVE: We conducted a systematic review and meta-analysis to assess the effectiveness of stimulation interventions on improving parenting outcomes. DATA SOURCES: Six electronic bibliographic databases. STUDY SELECTION: Inclusion criteria included randomized controlled trials of stimulation interventions designed to improve ECD outcomes during the first 2 years of life that measured any maternal or parenting-related outcome after the start of the intervention. DATA EXTRACTION: Two independent reviewers extracted data by using a structured form. RESULTS: Fifteen studies representing 13 unique randomized controlled trials met the inclusion criteria. Pooled standardized mean differences (SMDs) based on random-effects models revealed medium-to-large benefits of stimulation interventions for improving the home caregiving environment (n = 10; SMD = 0.57; 95% confidence interval [CI], 0.37 to 0.77), mother-child interactions (n = 3; SMD = 0.44; 95% CI, 0.14 to 0.74), and maternal knowledge of ECD (n = 6; SMD = 0.91; 95% CI, 0.51 to 1.31). No significant difference was seen for maternal depressive symptoms (n = 9; SMD = -0.10; 95% CI, -0.23 to -0.03). LIMITATIONS: Limitations include heterogeneity across interventions, lack of standardized measures, and different time points of assessments across studies. CONCLUSIONS: Early childhood stimulation interventions improve several distinct aspects of maternal parenting. Improvements in parenting capacities may serve as key mechanisms by which these programs benefit ECD outcomes.

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