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Parenting Interventions for Refugees and Forcibly Displaced Families: A Systematic Review

Abstract

Globally, an estimated 79.5 million individuals have been displaced, nearly 40% of whom are children. Parenting interventions may have the potential to improve outcomes for displaced families. To investigate this, we conducted a systematic review to identify the types of caregiver or parenting interventions that have been evaluated among displaced families, to assess their efficacy across a range of contexts, and to describe their cultural and contextual adaptations. The review followed PRISMA guidelines. At stage one, all articles describing caregiver/parenting interventions for forcibly displaced families were included to provide a scoping review of the state of the literature. At stage two, only randomized controlled trials (RCTs) and quasi-experimental designs were included, allowing for quantitative analysis of program effects. A total of 30 articles (24 studies) were identified in stage one. 95.8% of these articles were published in the past 10 years. Of these, 14 articles (10 studies) used an RCT or quasi-experimental design to assess program efficacy or effectiveness. Relative to control groups, those assigned to caregiving programs showed significant, beneficial effects across the domains of parenting behaviors and attitudes, child psychosocial and developmental outcomes, and parent mental health. Cultural adaptations and recruitment and engagement strategies are described. The evidence base for caregiving programs for displaced families has expanded in recent years but remains limited. Caregiving/parenting programs show promise for reducing the negative effects of forced displacement on families, but future studies are needed to understand which programs show the greatest potential for scalability.

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Data Availability

We have provided the full search strategies for APA PsycInfo (Ovid) and Medline (Ovid) in Supplement A.

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Funding

Sarah Gillespie’s time was supported by a Provost Fellowship from the University of Minnesota and by a National Science Foundation Graduate Research Fellowship. Akash Wasil’s time was supported by a National Science Foundation Graduate Research Fellowship.

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The first seven authors were involved in developing the review strategy, screening studies, and synthesizing results. Each contributed to writing the introduction, methods, and results. The eighth author designed and conducted the search strategy and contributed to writing the methods. The final author assisted in the interpretation and synthesis of results, and contributed to the introduction and discussion. All authors reviewed, edited, and approved the final manuscript.

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Correspondence to Abigail Gewirtz.

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Gillespie, S., Banegas, J., Maxwell, J. et al. Parenting Interventions for Refugees and Forcibly Displaced Families: A Systematic Review. Clin Child Fam Psychol Rev 25, 395–412 (2022). https://doi.org/10.1007/s10567-021-00375-z

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Keywords

  • Refugees
  • Internally displaced
  • Parenting programs
  • Caregiving programs
  • Systematic review
  • Prevention and intervention