Document Type


Degree Name

Master of Arts (MA)




Faculty of Science

First Advisor

Geoffrey Nelson

Advisor Role

Thesis Supervisor


This thesis is a meta-analytic review of interventions that focus on the promotion of family wellness and the prevention of child maltreatment. Fifty-six evaluations which met the inclusion criteria were coded and effect sizes were calculated for each of the studies. I identified five key elements or “moderator variables,” through a review of the literature, which I believed might have an impact on the effectiveness of interventions. These moderator variables were: an ecological framework, an empowerment/strengths-based focus, the duration/intensity of the intervention, and the availability of social support and concrete support. A three step model testing process was used to evaluate the impact of the moderator variables on the effectiveness of the interventions. In Step 1, the impact of the moderator variables was tested across the entire sample of 56 studies. In Step 2, the studies were subdivided according to program type before testing for the impact of the moderator variables. There were eight distinct types of programs; four were proactive and four were reactive. In Step 3, testing for the impact of the moderator variables occurred after the studies were subdivided by both program type and outcome measure. Lastly post-assessment and follow-up effect sizes were examined separately to identify any possible trends. Findings indicated that although the proactive and reactive interventions had similar mean effect sizes (.37 and .43, respectively), the effect sizes for the proactive interventions tended to be larger at follow-up than post-assessment, while the effect sizes for the reactive interventions tended to have higher effect sizes at post-assessment than follow-up. This indicates that gains made through proactive interventions are sustained, and even enhanced, over longer periods of time, compared with those of reactive interventions. Other findings revealed that for home visiting interventions, higher effect sizes were found for interventions which were longer in duration and higher in intensity, and that interventions with components of social and concrete support had lower effect sizes than interventions without those components. Intensive family preservation interventions with high levels of participant involvement in program planning and implementation, an empowerment/strengths-based focus, and a component of social support had higher effect sizes than interventions without those elements. Lastly, both home visiting and intensive family preservation interventions achieved higher effect sizes with participants having mixed socio-economic status than those working solely with participants having low socio-economic status.

Convocation Year


Convocation Season


Included in

Psychology Commons