The cost-effectiveness of UK parenting programmes for preventing children's behaviour problems: a review of the evidence

Madeleine Stevens (2014)

Please note: this is a legacy publication from CPEC (formely PSSRU at LSE).

Child and Family Social Work 19 1 109-118

Available online: 13 July 2012

Parenting programmes are widely used in the UK, promoted in policy documents as a cost-effective way for children's services to address behaviour problems and thereby the longer-term costs associated with conduct disorders, particularly antisocial behaviour and criminality. To explore whether these programmes are a cost-effective component of family intervention, this paper examines evidence from cost-effectiveness studies based on randomized controlled trials, modelling studies estimating longer-term costs and outcomes, and studies estimating costs of UK parenting programmes, including evidence from routine practice. Findings indicate that parenting programmes have the potential to be cost-saving in the long term; however, gaps in the evidence include: lack of follow-up of families who drop out of programmes, absence of control groups in longer-term follow-ups, and little information about costs and effects of programmes in routine practice. The size of savings resulting from implementation of effective parenting programmes will depend on the extent to which families likely to be most costly to society attend and experience lasting benefit.