The effectiveness of parenting programs in regard to improving parental reflective functioning: a meta-analysis

Camilla K.M. Lo, Sui Yan Wong

Research output: Journal article publicationJournal articleAcademic researchpeer-review

27 Citations (Scopus)


Although parenting interventions aiming to improve parental RF have been developed, there have been conflicting results in regard to intervention effectiveness. This meta-analytic review seeks to synthesize the available evidence that group-based parenting interventions improve parental RF, in order to provide conclusive evidence regarding their effectiveness. A systematic search was performed to retrieve relevant studies published before November 2019. A total of 15 studies met the selection criteria, of which 3 studies were randomized controlled trials (RCTs). The studies yielded a significant intervention effect with a small pooled effect size (Hedge’s g = 0.279, p = 0.002) on parental RF. However, the pooled effect size of the 3 RCTs was non-significant (pooled effect size: Hedge’s g = 0.189, p = 0.244), indicating that current best evidence is limited. As the heterogeneity test was significant (Q = 32.486, df = 14, p = 0.003), which suggests the presence of heterogeneity among the selected studies, a series of moderator analyses were performed to examine factors that may influence intervention effects. Interventions that involved children in middle childhood had a larger effect size than those involving children in infancy and early childhood.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1-18
JournalAttachment and Human Development
Publication statusPublished - 4 Nov 2020


  • mentalization-based intervention
  • mentalizing
  • meta-analysis
  • parenting programs
  • Reflective functioning

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Developmental and Educational Psychology
  • Psychiatry and Mental health


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