Systematic review and meta-analysis of effects of community-delivered positive youth development interventions on violence outcomes

GJ Melendez Torres, Kelly Dickson, Adam Fletcher, James Thomas, Kate Hinds, Rona Campbell, Simon Murhpy, Christopher P Bonell

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle (Academic Journal)peer-review

13 Citations (Scopus)
279 Downloads (Pure)


Background: We systematically reviewed and meta-analysed evaluations testing the effectiveness of positive youth development interventions for reducing violence in young people.

Methods: Two reviewers working independently screened records, assessed full-text studies for inclusion, and extracted data. Outcomes were transformed to Cohen’s d. Quality assessment of included evaluations was undertaken using the Cochrane risk of bias tool. Effect sizes were combined using multilevel meta-analysis. We searched 21 databases, including MEDLINE, PsycINFO, CINAHL and CENTRAL, and hand-searched key journals and websites. We included studies where the majority of participants were aged 11-18 years and where interventions were delivered in community (not clinical or judicial) settings outside normal school hours. We excluded studies targeting pre-defined physical and mental health conditions or parents/carers alongside young people. We defined violence as perpetration or victimization of physical violence including violent crime.

Results: Three randomised trials were included in this systematic review. Included evaluations each had design flaws. Meta-analyses suggested PYD interventions did not have a statistically significant effect on violence outcomes across all time points (d=0.021, 95% CI -0.050 to 0.093), though interventions did have a statistically significant short-term effect (0.076, 0.013 to 0.140).

Conclusion: Our meta-analyses do not offer evidence of PYD interventions in general having effects of public health significance in reducing violence among young people. Evaluations did not consistently report theories of change or implementation fidelity, so it is unclear if our meta-analyses provide evidence that the PYD theory of change is ineffective in reducing violence among young people.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1171-1177
Number of pages7
JournalJournal of Epidemiology and Community Health
Issue number12
Early online date21 Jul 2016
Publication statusPublished - Dec 2016

Structured keywords

  • DECIPHer


  • youth
  • violence
  • systematic review
  • child development


Dive into the research topics of 'Systematic review and meta-analysis of effects of community-delivered positive youth development interventions on violence outcomes'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this