Skip to content

How are behavioural interventions delivered to children (5-11-year olds): A systematic mapping review

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

Original languageEnglish
Article numbere000543
Number of pages11
JournalBMJ Paediatrics Open
DateSubmitted - 2019
DateAccepted/In press - 18 Oct 2019
DatePublished (current) - 10 Dec 2019


Behavioural interventions are used to prevent, manage and treat a wide variety of conditions including obesity, diabetes, chronic pain, asthma and emotional difficulties. There has been inadequate attention to the delivery of behavioural interventions to younger children (5–11 years old).

Our objectives were to describe the characteristics of behavioural interventions for children aged 5–11 years.

Data sources
We searched five databases: CINAHL, EMBASE, PsycINFO, MEDLINE and Cochrane Library, from January 2005 to August 2019.

Study selection
The inclusion criteria were (1) children aged 5–11, (2) cognitive and/or behavioural interventions, (3) randomised controlled trials and (4) 2005 onward. Two researchers independently identified studies for inclusion.

Data extraction
Two researchers independently extracted data from eligible papers.

The search identified 10 541 papers. We extracted information on 117 interventions (from 152 papers). Many of the interventions were categorised as complex. This was particularly true for clinical populations; 78.7% were delivered to both the child and parent, and 33.9% took place across multiple settings, typically health and school settings. Most (70.9%) were ‘First Wave’ (behavioural) interventions, and few (4.3%) were ‘Third Wave’ (characterised by metacognition, acceptance and mindfulness). Thirty-nine per cent used interactive techniques (play, arts, story and/or games). Purely digital and paper-based interventions were rare, but around a third used these tools as supplements to face–face delivery. There were differences in interventions for younger (5–7 years) and older (8–11 years) children.

Interventions designed and delivered to children should be developmentally sensitive. This review highlights characteristics of interventions delivered to children 5–11 years old: the involvement of the child’s parent, using behavioural (rather than cognitive) modalities, using interactive techniques and some interventions were delivered across multiple settings.



  • Full-text PDF (final published version)

    Rights statement: This is the final published version of the article (version of record). It first appeared online via BMJ at Please refer to any applicable terms of use of the publisher.

    Final published version, 635 KB, PDF document

    Licence: CC BY-NC


View research connections

Related faculties, schools or groups