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How do communities intervene with adolescents at psychosocial risk? A systematic review of positive development programs


  • García-Poole, Chloe
  • Byrne, Sonia
  • Rodrigo, María José


The community is an important context for adolescents at psychosocial risk due to its great potential to offer opportunities for positive development. The objective of this study is to review illustrative community group-based intervention programs that promote competences in this population following the positive development framework. A systematic literature search was carried out following the PRISMA guidelines to identify the characteristics of group-based programs (location, participants, aims, referral, enrollment, facilitator, method, and duration) and the quality level of their evaluation (emerging, promising, and best practice). The search included intervention programs published in peer-reviewed scientific journals in English and Spanish, from 1980 to 2017. Eight electronic databases and reference lists of relevant studies were consulted, and 25 programs targeting early, mid, and late adolescents were found to meet the inclusion criteria and were included in the review. Results reveal acceptable practices related to participant referral, facilitator training, and great variability in the types of activities offered, with overall positive findings in increasing adolescent personal and social competences and reducing problematic behaviors. However, information was lacking or was poorly reported on enrollment strategies, group composition, attrition rates, implementation measures, effect sizes and moderators of change, and therefore the quality of the evaluation designs could be improved in line with evidence-based standards. Recommendations are offered for researchers in the community program evaluation field, and policymakers, practitioners, and stakeholders can be made aware of the characteristics and effectiveness of these programs so that they can be offered to adolescents in need.

Suggested Citation

  • García-Poole, Chloe & Byrne, Sonia & Rodrigo, María José, 2019. "How do communities intervene with adolescents at psychosocial risk? A systematic review of positive development programs," Children and Youth Services Review, Elsevier, vol. 99(C), pages 194-209.
  • Handle: RePEc:eee:cysrev:v:99:y:2019:i:c:p:194-209
    DOI: 10.1016/j.childyouth.2019.01.038

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    References listed on IDEAS

    1. Francesca Gioia, 2017. "Peer effects on risk behaviour: the importance of group identity," Experimental Economics, Springer;Economic Science Association, vol. 20(1), pages 100-129, March.
    2. David Moher & Alessandro Liberati & Jennifer Tetzlaff & Douglas G Altman & The PRISMA Group, 2009. "Preferred Reporting Items for Systematic Reviews and Meta-Analyses: The PRISMA Statement," PLOS Medicine, Public Library of Science, vol. 6(7), pages 1-6, July.
    3. Petr Badura & Andrea Madarasova Geckova & Dagmar Sigmundova & Erik Sigmund & Jitse P. Dijk & Sijmen A. Reijneveld, 2018. "Can organized leisure-time activities buffer the negative outcomes of unstructured activities for adolescents’ health?," International Journal of Public Health, Springer;Swiss School of Public Health (SSPH+), vol. 63(6), pages 743-751, July.
    4. Ungar, Michael, 2011. "Community resilience for youth and families: Facilitative physical and social capital in contexts of adversity," Children and Youth Services Review, Elsevier, vol. 33(9), pages 1742-1748, September.
    5. Hale, D.R. & Fitzgerald-Yau, N. & Viner, R.M., 2014. "A systematic review of effective interventions for reducing multiple health risk behaviors in adolescence," American Journal of Public Health, American Public Health Association, vol. 104(5), pages 19-41.
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    Cited by:

    1. Kylie Burke & Cassandra K. Dittman & Elana J. Forbes & Elizabeth Eggins, 2021. "PROTOCOL: A systematic review and meta‐analysis of randomised controlled trials evaluating the impact of parenting programmes for parents of adolescents (10–18 years) on adolescent mental health outco," Campbell Systematic Reviews, John Wiley & Sons, vol. 17(1), March.
    2. Gliske, Kate & Ballard, Jaime & Buchanan, Gretchen & Borden, Lynne & Perkins, Daniel Francis, 2021. "The components of quality in youth programs and association with positive youth outcomes: A person-centered approach," Children and Youth Services Review, Elsevier, vol. 120(C).
    3. Thomas Page, Daniel & Hanrahan, Stephanie & Buckley, Lisa, 2023. "Real-world trial of positive youth development program “LifeMatters” with South African adolescents in a low-resource setting," Children and Youth Services Review, Elsevier, vol. 146(C).
    4. Zhu, Xiaoqin & Shek, Daniel T.L., 2020. "Impact of a positive youth development program on junior high school students in mainland China: A pioneer study," Children and Youth Services Review, Elsevier, vol. 114(C).

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