Ten RCTs were included (n=861). Sample size ranged from 31 to 160.
The authors stated that most, but not all, studies reported statistical control of attrition and that not all studies reported multisystemic therapy treatment fidelity outcomes. No further details were provided. The authors noted that all of the included studies except one were conducted by one of the founders of multisystemic therapy.
Multisystemic therapy was associated with improved family relationships (number of studies unclear), improved peer-relationships (one study), improved school attendance and/or performance (three studies), decreased behaviour problems (seven studies), decreased aggression and improved conduct (one study), improved parent-child relationships (two studies) and decreased out-of-home placement (one study).
Modified multisystemic therapy was associated with initial decreases in externalisation problems and improved family relationships and school attendance compared to psychiatric hospitalisation (one study), but there was no difference between groups at one year. Another follow-up study found a decrease in the rate of suicide attempts and reduced psychiatric symptoms at one year post-treatment for modified multisystemic therapy compared to control, but this study had methodological problems.
The only study that did not involve the founders of multisystemic therapy reported that multisystemic therapy was associated with significant improvements in functioning and mental health symptoms compared to usual treatment; improvements were maintained at six months.