OBJECTIVES: Assess the state of evidence regarding impacts of youth empowerment programs (YEPs) on adolescents' (ages 10-19) self-efficacy and self-esteem, as well as other social, emotional, and behavioral outcomes.
METHOD: Systematic searches of databases combined with an international outreach to identify experimental or quasi-experimental trials of community interventions that regularly involved youths in decision making.
RESULTS: Of the 8,789 citations identified, 3 studies met the inclusion criteria. None reported significant effects on the review's primary outcomes. Data from only two studies on self-efficacy could be meta-analyzed (combined N = 167). Results found no significant intervention effect on self-efficacy (z = 1.21; 95% confidence interval [CI]: [-0.12, 0.49]). Significant effects were found for some secondary outcomes, but these were inconsistent across studies.
CONCLUSIONS: The review reveals insufficient evidence of YEPs' impacts. Further research is needed using well-implemented models with clear theories of change, larger samples, and rigorous impact study designs complemented by mixed-methods process evaluation.