Practitioner Review: Unguided and guided self-help interventions for common mental health disorders in children and adolescents: a systematic review and meta-analysis

S.D. Bennett, P. Cuijpers, D. D. Ebert, M. McKenzie Smith, A.E. Coughtrey, I. Heyman, G. Manzotti, R. Shafran

Research output: Contribution to JournalReview articleAcademicpeer-review

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Abstract

Mental health problems are common in children and adolescents, yet evidence-based treatments are hard to access. Self-help interventions can increase such access. The aim of this paper was to conduct a systematic review and meta-analysis of the use of guided and unguided self-help for children and young people with symptoms of common mental health disorders. In contrast to previous reviews of self-help in children, all types of self-help and multiple mental health disorders were investigated in order to increase power to investigate potential moderators of efficacy. Importantly, studies with control arms as well as those comparing against traditional face-to-face treatments were included. Fifty studies (n = 3396 participants in self-help/guided self-help conditions) met the inclusion criteria. Results demonstrated a moderate positive effect size for guided and unguided self-help interventions when compared against a control group (n = 44; g = 0.49; 95% CI: 0.37 to 0.61, p <.01) and a small but significant negative effect size when compared to other therapies (n = 15; g = −0.17; 95% CI: –0.27 to –0.07, p <.01). Few potential moderators had a significant effect on outcome. Most comparisons resulted in significant heterogeneity and therefore results are interpreted with caution.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)828-847
Number of pages20
JournalJournal of Child Psychology and Psychiatry and Allied Disciplines
Volume60
Issue number8
Early online date18 Feb 2019
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - Aug 2019

Keywords

  • adolescents
  • anxiety
  • children
  • depression
  • disruptive behaviour
  • Self-help

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