A Systematic Review of Intervention Programs Promoting Peer Relationships Among Children and Adolescents: Methods and Targets Used in Effective Programs

Isabella Pollak*, Marija Mitic, James Birchwood, Sylvia Dörfler, Ina Krammer, Jack C. Rogers, Esther Judith Schek, Beate Schrank*, Katharina A.M. Stiehl, Kate Anne Woodcock*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Journal article (peer-reviewed)Review article

4 Citations (Scopus)

Abstract

Children’s peer relationships are crucial for their social-emotional development, mental and physical health. To identify effective strategies to facilitate peer relationships among 8–14-year-olds, a systematic review of intervention programs was conducted. Electronic databases ERIC, EMBASE, MEDLINE, PsycINFO, Cochrane Collection Library and grey literature sources were searched for intervention studies with general or clinical populations published between 2000 and 2020. Interventions had to assess quantity or quality of peer relationships as an outcome measure, thus focusing on helping children to establish more positive relationships or improving their self-reported relationship quality. Sixty-five papers were identified and grouped into universal prevention programs, selective interventions for typically developing children and indicated interventions for children with clinical diagnosis. Prevention programs and interventions for typically developing children facilitated peer relationships by targeting mental wellbeing and self-concepts. Clinical interventions focused on social-emotional skills, symptoms and peer behaviors. Successful programs showed a close alignment of methods and targeted program effects. Practitioners should also be aware of realistic goals for each population. Programs for a general population showed potential to decrease loneliness, whereas clinical populations achieved high increases in play dates, peer acceptance and sociometric status.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)297-321
Number of pages25
JournalAdolescent Research Review
Volume8
Issue number3
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - Sept 2023

Keywords

  • Children and adolescents
  • Intervention programs
  • Mental health
  • Peer relationships
  • Social and emotional learning

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Pediatrics, Perinatology and Child Health
  • Developmental and Educational Psychology
  • Social Sciences (miscellaneous)
  • Psychiatry and Mental Health

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