Conduct disorder (CD) places huge costs on the individual, family and society. Parenting programmes can reduce CD symptomatology, but economic evaluations of their cost-effectiveness are rarely undertaken. The objective of this paper was to conduct the first specific systematic review of the published economic evidence of parenting programmes as a means to support families with children with or at risk of developing CD. A systematic search of 12 electronic databases was conducted. We identified 93 papers, of which six fulfilled the inclusion criteria. The search found one review article, mainly focusing upon clinical evidence with secondary focus on cost-effectiveness, one cost-effectiveness study, two partial economic evaluations and two cost studies. The costs of group parenting programme delivery ranged from £629.00 to £3839.00. Cost-effectiveness was influenced by intervention type and delivery method, i.e. individual versus group programme. The review highlights a need for a more standardized approach towards the comparison of the cost-effectiveness of parent programmes. In future studies it may be helpful to adopt a 'complex intervention approach', exploring in detail the attribution of cause and effect, the role of socio-economic setting and ripple effects, e.g. benefits to other family members.
© 2011 Blackwell Publishing Ltd.