Meta-Analysis on Interventions for Children Exposed to Intimate Partner Violence

Trauma Violence Abuse. 2021 Oct;22(4):728-738. doi: 10.1177/1524838019881737. Epub 2019 Oct 17.


Several reviews have been conducted on children's outcomes following exposure to intimate partner violence (IPV), but there remain inconsistent findings. We conducted a meta-analysis on child emotional and behavioral outcomes of IPV exposure interventions, based on published reviews that included a child component. We also explored relative effect sizes by examining moderators of the effect sizes across studies. This meta-analysis included 21 evaluation studies across 12 published reviews, which were located using a multiple database systematic search of English publications between 2000 and 2019. Studies were required to evaluate IPV interventions that included children, to gather quantitative pre- and post-intervention data on child outcomes, to use standardized instruments, and to present data in a format that could be used in a meta-analysis. Results indicated an overall pre- to post-intervention medium effect size (d = 0.49), with effect sizes ranging from small to large depending on the specific outcome. Improvements at follow-up were maintained for internalizing behaviors but decreased for trauma-related symptoms and social, externalizing, and total behaviors. However, externalizing and total behavior outcomes still had significant effect sizes in the small-to-medium range (d = 0.36 and 0.44). There were greater intervention effects when treatment was not exclusively trauma-specific. It appears that IPV exposure interventions are generally effective for improving children's emotional and behavioral well-being, although interventions would benefit from greater tailoring to children's specific needs. Interventions may also benefit from incorporating various content areas (both trauma-specific and non-trauma-specific) and from greater focus on ensuring the maintenance of treatment gains.

Keywords: child; domestic violence; intervention; intimate partner violence; meta-analysis; moderator.

Publication types

  • Meta-Analysis

MeSH terms

  • Child
  • Child Behavior Disorders*
  • Humans
  • Intimate Partner Violence*