BACKGROUND: Parent education and training programmes can improve maternal psychosocial health, child behavioural problems and parenting practices. This review assesses the effects of parenting interventions for reducing child injury.
OBJECTIVES: To assess the effects of parenting interventions for preventing unintentional injury in children aged under 18 years and for increasing possession and use of safety equipment and safety practices by parents.
SEARCH METHODS: We searched CENTRAL, MEDLINE, EMBASE, BIOSIS Preview, PsycINFO, Sociological Abstracts, Social Science Citation Index, CINAHL, ProQuest Dissertations and Theses, ERIC, DARE, ASSIA, Web of Science, SIGLE and ZETOC. We also handsearched abstracts from the World Conferences on Injury Prevention & Control and the journal Injury Prevention. The searches were conducted in January 2011.
SELECTION CRITERIA: We included randomised controlled trials (RCTs), non-randomised controlled trials (non-RCTs) and controlled before and after studies (CBAs), which evaluated parenting interventions administered to parents of children aged 18 years and under, and reported outcome data on injuries for children (unintentional or unspecified intent), possession and use of safety equipment or safety practices (including the Home Observation for Measurement of the Environment (HOME) scale which contained an assessment of home safety) by parents. Parenting interventions were defined as those with a specified protocol, manual or curriculum aimed at changing knowledge, attitudes or skills covering a range of parenting topics.
DATA COLLECTION AND ANALYSIS: Studies were selected, data were extracted and quality appraised independently by two authors. Pooled relative risks (RR) were estimated using random effect models.
MAIN RESULTS: Twenty two studies were included in the review: 16 RCTs, two non-RCTs, one partially randomised trial which contained two randomised intervention arms and one non-randomised control arm, two CBA studies and one quasi randomised controlled trial. Seventeen studies provided interventions comprising parenting education and other support services; 15 of which were home visiting programmes and two of which were paediatric practice-based interventions. Two provided solely educational interventions. Nineteen studies recruited families who were from socio-economically disadvantaged populations, were at risk of adverse child outcomes or people who may benefit from extra support, such as single mothers, teenage mothers, first time mothers and mothers with learning difficulties. Ten RCTs involving 5074 participants were included in the meta-analysis, which indicated that intervention families had a statistically significant lower risk of injury than control families (RR 0.83, 95% CI 0.73 to 0.94). Sensitivity analyses undertaken including only RCTs at low risk of various sources of bias found the findings to be robust to including only those studies at low risk of detection bias in terms of blinded outcome assessment and attrition bias in terms of follow up of fewer than 80% of participants in each arm. When analyses were restricted to studies at low risk of selection bias in terms of inadequate allocation concealment the effect size was no longer statistically significant. Several studies found statistically significant fewer home hazards or a greater number of safety practices in intervention families. Of ten studies reporting scores on the HOME scale, data from three RCTs were included in a meta-analysis which found no evidence of a difference in quality of the home environment between treatment arms (mean difference 0.57, 95% CI -0.59 to 1.72). Most of the studies reporting home safety practices, home hazards or composite home safety scores found statistically significant effects favouring intervention arm families. Overall, using GRADE, the quality of the evidence was rated as moderate.
AUTHORS' CONCLUSIONS: Parenting interventions, most commonly provided within the home using multi-faceted interventions are effective in reducing child injury. There is fairly consistent evidence that they also improve home safety. The evidence relates mainly to interventions provided to families from disadvantaged populations, who are at risk of adverse child health outcomes or whose families may benefit from extra support. Further research is required to explore mechanisms by which these interventions may reduce injury, the features of parenting interventions that are necessary or sufficient to reduce injury and the generalisability to different population groups.