Media-based behavioural treatments for behavioural problems in children

Cognitive-behavioural interventions have been shown to be effective for reducing behavioural problems in children, but access to these treatments is limited by factors including the availability of therapists, time and expense. Providing the information required to manage these problems in booklet or other media-based format such as DVDs, cassettes or computer programmes, would reduce the cost and increase access to these interventions. In general, this review found that media-based therapies for behavioural disorders in children had a moderate effect versus no-treatment and as an adjunct to medication.

Authors' conclusions: 

These formats of delivering behavioural interventions for carers of children are worth considering in clinical practice. Media-based interventions may, in some cases, be enough to make clinically significant changes in a child's behaviour, and may reduce the amount of time primary care workers have to devote to each case. They can also be used as the first stage of a stepped care approach. Consequently this would increase the number of families who could possibly benefit from these types of intervention, releasing clinician time that can be reallocated to more complex cases. Media-based therapies would therefore appear to have both clinical and economic implications as regards the treatment of children with behavioural problems.

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Background: 

Many approaches are used to address behavioural problems in childhood including medication or, more usually, psychological treatments either directly with the child and/or his/her family. Behavioural and cognitive-behavioural interventions have been shown to be effective but access to these treatments is limited due to factors such as time and expense. Presenting the information parents need in order to manage these behaviour problems in booklet or other media-based format might reduce the cost and increase access to these interventions.

Objectives: 

To review the effects of media-based cognitive-behavioural therapies for any young person with a behavioural disorder (diagnosed using a recognised instrument) compared to standard care and no-treatment controls.

Search strategy: 

We searched: CENTRAL (The Cochrane Library Issue 3, 2005), MEDLINE (1966 to August 2005), EMBASE (1980 to August 2005), PsycINFO (1887 to August 2005), CINAHL (1982 to August 2005), Biosis (1985 to August 2005) and Sociofile (1974 to August 2005). Bibliographies of all selected trials were checked and experts in the field were contacted for additional information.

Selection criteria: 

Randomised and quasi-randomised controlled trials (e.g. trials which used sequential randomisation) of media-based behavioural treatments for behaviour problems in children.

Data collection and analysis: 

Abstracts and titles of studies identified from searches of electronic databases were read to determine whether they met the inclusion criteria. Full copies of those possibly meeting these criteria from electronic or other searches were assessed by the reviewers and queries were resolved by discussion. Data were analysed using RevMan 4.2.

Main results: 

Eleven studies including 943 participants were included within this review. In general, media-based therapies for behavioural disorders in children had a moderate, if variable, effect when compared with both no-treatment controls with effects sizes ranging from -0.12 (-1.65, 1.41) to -32.60 (-49.93, -15.27) and as and adjunct to medication with effect sizes ranging from -2.71 (-5.86, -0.44) to -39.55 (-75.01, -4.09). Significant improvements were made with the addition of up to two hours of therapist time.

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