This is the first meta-analytic review investigating what components and techniques of parent training programs for preventing or reducing child maltreatment are associated with program effectiveness. A literature search yielded 51 studies (N
= 6670) examining the effectiveness of parent training programs for preventing or reducing child maltreatment. From these studies, 185 effect sizes were extracted and more than 40 program components and techniques were coded. A significant and small overall effect size was found (d
= 0.416, 95% CI (0.334, 0.498), p
< 0.001). No significant moderating effects were found for contextual factors and structural elements (i.e., program duration, delivery location, and delivery setting). Further, no significant moderating effects were found for most of the coded program components and techniques, indicating that these components are about equally effective. Only a few program components and techniques moderated program effectiveness, however these effects were negative. These results indicated that improving parental personal skills, improving problem solving skills, and stimulating children’s prosocial behavior should not be the main focus of parental training programs for preventing and reducing child maltreatment. This also holds for practicing new skills by rehearsal and giving direct feedback in program sessions. Further clinical implications and directions for future research are discussed.
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