Systematic Review of Fathers' Involvement in Programmes for the Primary Prevention of Child Maltreatment

Tyler K. Smith, Anne Duggan, Megan H. Bair-Merritt, Georgette Cox

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

32 Scopus citations


Both mothers and fathers perpetrate child maltreatment, but it is uncertain the extent to which child maltreatment prevention programmes include fathers. The objectives of this systematic review were to determine: (1) how many empirically studied primary prevention programmes for child maltreatment have included fathers; (2) among studies including fathers, what percentage of participants were fathers; and (3) whether programmes were effective in reducing paternal risk factors for child maltreatment. Three online databases were searched. Eligible articles were English language, original research studies describing an intervention for the primary prevention of child maltreatment for children≤five years. Included studies had to include at least one father. After screening for eligibility using titles and abstracts, the full text of 158 articles was abstracted. Seventeen studies, describing 15 individual and one multi-site programme, met eligibility criteria. The majority of the studies identified by the systematic review were from the USA. Thirteen programmes had<30 per cent paternal participation; one did not clearly delineate the number of fathers. In the final two programmes, ≥ 50 per cent of the participants were fathers. Programme effectiveness in reducing paternal risk factors is uncertain because only the two studies with≥50 per cent fathers reported father-specific results. Few fathers participated in empirically studied child maltreatment primary prevention programmes. Research is needed to determine how to actively engage fathers.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)237-254
Number of pages18
JournalChild Abuse Review
Issue number4
StatePublished - Jul 2012


  • Child maltreatment
  • Fathers
  • Parenting programmes
  • Prevention
  • Systematic review

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Pediatrics, Perinatology, and Child Health
  • Law


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