Rates of births to teenage parents are high and there is also a high incidence of poor outcomes among the children of teenage parents including developmental and learning problems, and child maltreatment. Parenting programmes may have an important role to play in improving outcomes for both teenage parents and their children. The aim of this review was to examine the effectiveness of individual and/or group based parenting programmes in improving psychosocial and developmental outcomes in teenage mothers and their children. A range of biomedical and social science databases were searched. Only randomised controlled trials were included in which participants had been randomly allocated to an experimental and a control group, the latter being a waiting-list, no-treatment or a placebo control group. Studies had to include at least one standardised instrument measuring maternal psychosocial health or infant health and development. The included studies were critically appraised using a number of criteria including the method of allocation concealment. The treatment effect for each outcome in each study was standardised by dividing the mean difference in post- intervention scores for the intervention and treatment group, by the pooled standard deviation, to produce an effect size. Due to the presence of significant heterogeneity it was not possible to combine the results in a meta-analysis. The results of the review are based on data from four studies. These showed that both individual and group-based parenting programmes produced results favouring the intervention group on a range of maternal and infant measures of outcome including mother-infant interaction, language development, parental attitudes, parental knowledge, maternal mealtime communication, maternal self-confidence and maternal identity. The conclusions which can be drawn from this review are limited due to the small number of included studies, and the use of a restricted number of outcomes measures. The conclusions are also limited by some of the methodological deficiencies of the included studies. Despite these problems the findings of the included studies suggest that parenting programmes may be effective in improving outcomes for both teenage mothers and their infants. There is, however, a need for further research into the effectiveness of parenting programmes for teenage parents. (Author abstract modified)
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