Developing policy in the provision of parenting programmes: integrating a review of reviews with the perspectives of both parents and professionals


James Law, Centre for Integrated Healthcare Research, Queen Margaret University, Queen Margaret University Drive, Musselburgh, East Lothian, EH21 6UU, UK


Background  Parenting programmes are a key component of the delivery of children's services, but evidence-based policy has often proved difficult to implement.

Methods  The present review addressed this issue by integrating a review of systematic reviews of parenting programmes and a series of focus groups with parents and professionals involved in parenting across three agencies in a regional area (health, education and social work). The review summarizes parenting interventions targeting infant mental health, emotional and behavioural difficulties, autism spectrum disorder and attention deficit hyperactivity disorder, abuse/neglect, alcohol/substance abuse and ‘vulnerable’ parents. The focus groups discussed topics such as the range of parenting services across the three agencies, accessibility, gaps in the service and future directions.

Results and conclusions  Twenty systematic reviews were summarized. These reviews demonstrated that there is a wide range of parenting programmes available that have the potential to benefit families who are affected by problems ranging from emotional and behavioural difficulties to adolescent substance abuse. However, the findings of the focus groups reveal that the success of these programmes will depend in part on how they can be tailored to meet the social context of the families targeted. These integrated findings are discussed in terms of their implications for policy and practice.