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Cochrane Database Syst Rev. 2007 Jan 24;(1):CD003760.

Cognitive-behavioural training interventions for assisting foster carers in the management of difficult behaviour.

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University of Bristol, School for Policy Studies, No. 8 Priory Road, Bristol, UK, BS8 1TZ.



The provision of training for foster carers is now seen as an important factor contributing to the successful outcome of foster care placements. Since the late 1960s, foster carer training programs have proliferated, and few of the many published and unpublished training curricula have been systematically assessed and evaluated. The advent of cognitive-behavioural therapy (CBT) and the research evidence demonstrating its effectiveness as a psychotherapeutic treatment of choice, has prompted many working in the social care field to devise CBT-based training programmes. CBT approaches to foster care training derive from a 'skill-based' training format that also seeks to identify and correct problematic thinking patterns that are associated with dysfunctional behaviour by changing and/or challenging maladaptive thoughts and beliefs.


To assess the effectiveness of cognitive-behavioural training interventions in improving a) looked-after children's behavioural/relationship problems, b) foster carers' psychological well-being and functioning, c) foster family functioning, d) foster agency outcomes.


We searched databases including: CENTRAL (Cochrane Library Issue 3, 2006), MEDLINE (January 1966 to September 2006), EMBASE (January 1980 to April 2004), CINAHL (January 1982 to April 2004), PsycINFO (January 1872 to April 2004), ASSIA (January 1987 to April 2004), LILACS (up to April 2004), ERIC (January 1965 to April 2004), Sociological Abstracts (January 1963 to April 2004), and the National Research Register 2004 (Issue 3). We contacted experts in the field concerning current research.


All studies in which participants were foster parents/carers, and who were allocated by random or quasi-random methods to a CBT-based training intervention (in a group and/or one-to-one settings) versus a no-treatment or wait-list control, were selected.


Data from the six eligible trials (total n = 463 ) were extracted and entered into RevMan. Results were synthesised and presented in both graphical (forest plots) and narrative form (where insufficient data were provided for effect size computations).


Training interventions evaluated to date appear to have very little effect on outcomes relating to looked-after children, assessed in relation to psychological functioning, extent of behavioural problems and interpersonal functioning. Results relating to foster carer(s) outcomes also show no evidence of effectiveness in measures of behavioural management skills, attitudes and psychological functioning. Analysis pertaining to fostering agency outcomes did not show any significant results.


There is currently little evidence about the efficacy of CBT-based training intervention for foster carers. The need for further research in this area is highlighted.

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