A systematic review of universal campaigns targeting child physical abuse prevention

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Abstract

The purpose of this review was to better understand the impact of universal campaign interventions with a media component aimed at preventing child physical abuse (CPA). The review included 17 studies featuring 15 campaigns conducted from 1989 to 2011 in five countries. Seven studies used experimental designs, but most were quasi-experimental. CPA incidence was assessed in only three studies and decreased significantly in two. Studies also found significant reductions in relevant outcomes such as dysfunctional parenting, child problem behaviors and parental anger as well as increases in parental self-efficacy and knowledge of concepts and actions relevant to preventing child abuse. The following risk factors were most frequently targeted in campaigns: lack of knowledge regarding positive parenting techniques, parental impulsivity, the stigma of asking for help, inadequate social support and inappropriate expectations for a child’s developmental stage. The evidence base for universal campaigns designed to prevent CPA remains inconclusive due to the limited availability of rigorous evaluations; however, Triple-P is a notable exception. Given the potential for such interventions to shift population norms relevant to CPA and reduce rates of CPA, there is a need to further develop and rigorously evaluate such campaigns.

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