01.03.2021

Adolescent dating violence prevention programmes: a global systematic review of evaluation studies

Adolescent dating violence negatively affects millions of young people worldwide. Through a global systematic review, researchers synthesised evidence from rigorous studies of prevention programmes for adolescent dating violence.

The aims were to: (1) describe the breadth of research in this area and evidence of programme effects, and (2) identify gaps in the evidence base. Experimental and controlled quasi-experimental programme evaluations, published before Jan 1, 2020, that assessed effects on victimisation or perpetration, or both, in adolescent dating violence and in which at least half of the study population was 10–19 years old were included.

Study design, programme elements, and outcomes were compared between evaluations implemented in high-income countries (HICs) and low-income and middle-income countries (LMICs). 52 evaluations met inclusion criteria, of which 20 (38%) were implemented in LMICs. Evaluations in HICs were more likely to assess effects on adolescent dating violence victimisation and perpetration, rather than just victimisation than those in LMICs, and they were also more likely to include boys and girls, as opposed to just a single sex.

Overall, 26 (50%) of the 52 evaluations reported a significant preventive effect on at least one outcome for adolescent dating violence, of which nine were implemented in LMICs. Across LMICs and HICs, findings suggest research is needed to shed light on how adolescent dating violence prevention programmes work and to identify whether programme effects generalise across different settings, outcomes, and subgroups.

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