Gender differences in mental health emerge as early as in childhood and adolescence, highlighting the potential need for gender-specific child and adolescent mental health care. However, it is unclear how gender-specific child and adolescent mental health care is implemented and whether its' approaches are useful. Therefore, this study reviews gender-specific interventions and their effectiveness for child and adolescent mental health.
Five databases were searched for articles published between 2000 and 2021.
In total, 43 studies were included. Most interventions were conducted in school (n = 15) or community settings (n = 8). Substance-related disorders (n = 13) and eating disorders (n = 12) were addressed most frequently. Most interventions targeted girls (n = 31). Various gender-specific aspects were considered, including gender-specific risk and protective factors (n = 35) and needs (n = 35).
Although most interventions yielded significant improvements in mental health outcomes (n = 32), only few studies reported medium or large effect sizes (n = 13). Additionally, there was a lack of strong causal evidence derived from randomized controlled trials, calling for more rigorous trials in the research field. Nevertheless, our findings indicate that gender-specific mental health care can be a promising approach to meet gender-specific mental health needs.
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