One hundred and forty-two studies were included in the review. Study designs were not reported. Mean sample size was 108 participants. Follow-up data were reported in 42 studies; the mean follow-up period from completion of the intervention and follow-up was 28.6 months.
Significant benefits of the interventions were shown for all parenting variables including parenting quality (d=0.35, 95% CI 0.29 to 0.42; 103 treated samples) parenting stress (d=0.20, 95% CI 0.11 to 0.29; 26 treated samples), child abuse/neglect (d=0.13, 95% CI 0.05 to 0.21; 29 samples) and health-promoting parental behaviour including immunisations (d=0.15, 95% CI 0.07 to 0.23; 30 treated samples).
Significant positive outcomes were observed in child outcomes including cognitive development (d=0.24, 95% CI 0.14 to 0.33; 38 samples), motor development (d=0.15, 95% CI 0.07 to 0.23; 22 treated samples), social development (d=0.30, 95% CI 0.19 to 0.42; 34 treated samples), child mental health (d=0.24, 95% CI 0.15 to 0.32; 40 samples).
Significant benefits were observed for parental outcomes measured by parental mental health (d=0.13, 95% CI 0.06 to 0.20; 33 treated samples) and couple adjustment (d=0.19, 95% CI 0.06 to 0.33; 13 treated samples).
Significant benefits were observed at follow-up for all child outcomes and for parenting quality.
Statistically significant heterogeneity was observed across trials for all results reported at the end of the interventions.
Larger effect sizes were found for interventions that were delivered after childbirth, administered using a group format, administered by professionals, less recent studies and studies that were delivered largely or exclusively to mothers only.