This database was designed to accompany
a Review published in October 2004 as
What Works in Parenting Support? A Review of the International
Evidence by Patricia Moran, Deborah Ghate, and Amelia van der Merwe
at the Policy Research Bureau.
The main text of the Review and an
executive summary of key messages can be downloaded from this site
using the links on the left, and also
from the DfES web site.
The database, referred to in the Review as the online grid,
contains details of 88 individual evaluation studies of parenting support
interventions that informed the conclusions of the Review.
The Review itself was carried out by
the Policy Research Bureau on behalf of the Department for
Education and Skills (DfES).
It examines the international (English language) evidence regarding the
effectiveness of parenting support programmes. In the light of research
evidence from recent decades linking various aspects of parenting
with outcomes for children, many programmes have sprung up aimed at
helping parents to enhance their ability to parent, in the hope that
outcomes for children may ultimately improve. At the same time, a body
of literature documenting the scientific evaluation of parent support
programmes has also accumulated, assessing its effectiveness. The
publication reviews this growing body of literature. The task involved
collating, grading, sorting and summarising parenting support evaluation
literature (both published and unpublished) in order to delineate
what is known about 'what works' both in the UK and elsewhere, and to
distil key messages for policy makers regarding practice, research
and overarching national policy. Full information on the design and
methodology of the Review and the inclusion and exclusion criteria for
studies in the database are given in the main publication and are not
In brief, studies that are contained in the database were
sorted and are indexed in the database according to the outcomes (i.e., impact)
of the interventions they report on. Outcome categories included outcomes
for children, outcomes for parents, and outcomes for parent-child
relationships. Studies included in the database report on interventions
that are designed to address relatively common parenting difficulties,
and were generally selected on the basis that they achieved a minimum
threshold for methodological rigour (see below, Information provided
for each study in the database for details of methodological 'grading'
of studies). In the case of interventions that have been extensively
studied, up to three 'exemplar' studies were included to represent
the main messages of the wider range of studies. In the case of less
well-studied interventions, studies may have been included that are
rather less rigorous methodologically than the norm.
How to use this database
The purpose of providing the database online is to enable
readers to search the database for further detail on the studies that informed
the Review. It is not intended to be a comprehensive library of all studies
in the field, nor even of the most important studies, and should not be
treated as such. We hope that readers seeking information on particular
aspects of family support outcomes for children or for parents will be
able to use the database to select studies that match their specified
areas of interest (for example, to find detail on studies that report
outcomes for children's emotions or behaviour; or outcomes for parenting
For each individual study the database provides information
about the nature of the intervention, the study's key conclusions with regard
to outcomes for parents and children, and its methodology.