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Systematic Review of Fathers' Involvement in Programmes for the Primary Prevention of Child Maltreatment

NCJ Number
Child Abuse Review Volume: 21 Issue: 4 Dated: July - August 2012 Pages: 237-254
Tyler K. Smith; Anne Duggan; Megan H. Bair-Merritt; Georgette Cox
Date Published
August 2012
18 pages
This study examined the extent to which child maltreatment prevention programs include fathers.
Both mothers and fathers perpetrate child maltreatment, but it is uncertain the extent to which child maltreatment prevention programs include fathers. The objectives of this systematic review were to determine: (1) how many empirically studied primary prevention programs for child maltreatment have included fathers; (2) among studies including fathers, what percentage of participants were fathers; and (3) whether programs were effective in reducing paternal risk factors for child maltreatment. Three online databases were searched. Eligible articles were English language, original research studies describing an intervention for the primary prevention of child maltreatment for children less than 5 years. Included studies had to include at least one father. After screening for eligibility using titles and abstracts, the full text of 158 articles was abstracted. Seventeen studies, describing 15 individual and one multi-site program, met eligibility criteria. The majority of the studies identified by the systematic review were from the USA. Thirteen programs had less than 30 percent paternal participation; one did not clearly delineate the number of fathers. In the final two programs, greater than 50 percent of the participants were fathers. Program effectiveness in reducing paternal risk factors is uncertain because only the two studies with greater than 50 percent fathers reported father-specific results. Few fathers participated in empirically studied child maltreatment primary prevention programs. Research is needed to determine how to actively engage fathers. Abstract published by arrangement with John Wiley & Sons.