Child neglect is the most common type of child maltreatment. Our objective was to systematically evaluate the available evidence regarding the effectiveness of child neglect treatment programs, including those focused on victims of childhood neglect and (or) their caregivers.
We comprehensively searched the Medline, Psycinfo, and Eric databases from January 1980 to May 2003. Two authors independently reviewed 54 studies that met inclusion criteria. Fourteen articles met our design criterion and were assessed for their methodological quality according to guidelines developed by the US Preventive Services Task Force.
Of the 14 studies included in the review, 2 were rated as good, and 3 were rated as fair. We found evidence that 2 specific types of play therapy and a therapeutic day treatment program had beneficial effects for children. Further, parents and children in families where neglect had occurred showed improvement with multisystemic therapy.
Rigorous studies of treatments for neglected children and their families are lacking. Well-designed and well-conducted evaluations are urgently required to identify effective treatments, which should then be made available to children and their caregivers.