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Interventions to prevent or ameliorate child physical abuse and neglect: findings from a systematic review of reviews

Jane Barlow (University of Warwick)
Doug Simkiss (University of Warwick)
Sarah Stewart‐Brown (University of Warwick)

Journal of Children's Services

ISSN: 1746-6660

Article publication date: 1 November 2006



The aim of this article is to summarise the available evidence from systematic reviews about the effectiveness of interventions to prevent or treat child physical abuse and neglect. A computerised search was undertaken of major electronic databases up to December 2005 using key search terms. Only systematic reviews were included in which the primary studies evaluated the effectiveness of targeted or indicated interventions for child physical abuse or neglect. A total of 31 systematic reviews were identified and 15 met all the inclusion criteria. They covered a range of interventions/services, including home visiting, parenting programmes, multi‐component interventions, intensive family preservation services, family‐focused casework and multi‐systemic family therapy. There was limited evidence of the effectiveness of services in improving objective measures of abuse and neglect, due in part to methodological issues involved in their measurement, but good evidence of modest benefits in improving a range of outcomes that are associated with physical abuse and neglect, including parental and family functioning and child development. The results also showed some interventions (eg. media‐based and perinatal coaching) to be ineffective with high‐risk families. The evidence provided by these reviews has clear implications for children's services in the UK and other western developed countries.



Barlow, J., Simkiss, D. and Stewart‐Brown, S. (2006), "Interventions to prevent or ameliorate child physical abuse and neglect: findings from a systematic review of reviews", Journal of Children's Services, Vol. 1 No. 3, pp. 6-28.



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Copyright © 2006, Emerald Group Publishing Limited

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