Thirty-two primary studies (48 papers) were included in this review (the overall number of participants was unclear). The majority of studies were USA based.
Anxiety (5 studies): all of these studies used cognitive-behavioural therapy (CBT) interventions and were rated as 1++ on quality. All showed beneficial effects of the intervention programmes. Two studies showed that brief targeted interventions (9 to 10 weeks) successfully reduced anxiety problems developing in children who were identified as showing precursor symptoms. Two studies of indicated interventions suggested that anxious school refusers and children of divorce show sustained benefit compared with controls, and one study showed increased benefits when parent training was combined with child CBT.
Mood disorders (5 studies): all of these studies used CBT interventions to prevent or reduce depressive symptoms; one was rated 1++ on quality and the others as 1+. One study looked at interventions targeted towards a subgroup of children exposed to violence and found significantly fewer symptoms of mental ill health and fewer reports of psychosocial dysfunction by parents in the CBT group. The other 4 studies reported mixed results, which may have been affected by co-morbidity in the study sample and lack of clear diagnoses in one trial.
Conduct and hyperkinetic disorders (targeted solely at young people).
Attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD; 2 studies): both studies used multicomponent interventions based on CBT. One addressed ADHD symptoms, while the other focused on helping teachers to identify ADHD and respond appropriately. No significant differences were found between the intervention and control groups on the outcome measures reported.
Conduct and oppositional defiant disorder (6 studies): 4 studies used interventions focused on peer norming and negative attribution reversal techniques, reporting modest effects and lack of long-term impact. Two studies found that peer mentoring was successful in developing pro social skills and social standing in aggressive children.
Conduct disorders and oppositional defiant disorder (multicomponent interventions).
These interventions targeted both young people and their parents and teachers. All 14 interventions (29 papers) were targeted towards children with or at risk of conduct and/or oppositional defiant disorders. The narrative synthesis suggested that some programmes found improvements in social problem-solving, development of positive peer relationships and academic achievement. Four studies were entered into a meta-analysis, giving an SMD of 0.06 (95% CI: -0.07, 0.19) that suggested no significant benefit for the intervention groups.