The Efficacy of Psychological, Educational, and Behavioral Treatment: Confirmation from Meta-Analysis

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NICHCY’s Structured Abstract 39 describes the following:

Title | The Efficacy of Psychological, Educational, and Behavioral Treatment: Confirmation from Meta-Analysis

Author | Lipsey, M. E., & Wilson, D.B.

Source American Psychologist, 48(12), 1181-1209.

Year Published | 1993

Abstract
Conventional reviews of research on the efficacy of psychological, educational, and behavioral treatments often find considerable variation in outcomes among studies and, as a consequence, fail to reach firm conclusions about the overall effectiveness of the interventions in question. In contrast, meta-analytic reviews show a strong, dramatic pattern of positive overall effects that cannot readily be explained as artifacts of meta-analytic technique or generalized placebo effects. Moreover, the effects are not so small that they can be dismissed as lacking practical or clinical significance. Although meta-analysis has limitations, there are good reasons to believe that its results are more credible than those of conventional reviews and to conclude that well-developed psychological, educational, and behavioral treatment is generally efficacious.

Background
In 1976, a new kind of research synthesis was developed called meta-analysis.  Meta-analysis integrates and interprets studies on the effectiveness of various treatments.  Using meta-analysis, researchers can determine whether certain interventions generally produce greater benefits than others.

This meta-analysis does not simply examine the effectiveness of a single intervention or treatment as many meta-analyses do but, instead, examines the effectiveness of psychological, educational, and behavioral treatments in general by analyzing over 300 meta-analyses conducted in these areas over the first decade and a half after the meta-analysis procedure was developed.

Research Questions
This article examines the large body of meta-analyses of psychological, educational, and behavioral treatment research that occurred between 1977 and 1991.

Research Design
Meta-Analysis *

  • Number of Studies Included | 302
  • Number of Subjects | N/A
  • Years Spanned | 1977-1991

Research Subjects
Subjects in these studies received some form of psychological, educational, or behavioral treatment.

Age/Grade of Subjects
Participants ranged in age from young children to adults.

Specified Disability
Many different disabilities were represented in the various meta-analyses in this synthesis. In the meta-analyses of psychological treatments, participants had psychological disorders such as depression, phobias, neuroses, emotional-somatic disorder, eating disorders

Intervention
A wide variety of psychological, behavioral, and educational interventions were used across the 302 studies in the meta-analysis.

Duration of Intervention
N/A

Findings
Lipsey and Wilson found that well-developed psychological, educational, and behavioral treatments generally have meaningful positive effects.

Combined Effects Size
The median effect size across all 302 meta-analyses in this study was 0.47; the mean effect size was 0.50.

Conclusion/Recommendations
In their broad review of meta-analytic evidence, Lipsey and Wilson found that well-developed psychological, educational and behavioral treatments generally have meaningful positive effects. The authors conclude that the first 15 years in which the meta-analysis techniques were used yielded not only dozens of well-executed, systematic meta-analytic reviews demonstrating the usefulness of this technique, but also evidence of the effectiveness of a wide variety of psychological, educational, and behavioral treatments.

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Meta-Analysis | A widely-used research method in which (1) a systematic and reproducible search strategy is used to find as many studies as possible that address a given topic; (2) clear criterion are presented for inclusion/exclusion of individual studies into a larger analysis; and (3) results of included studies are statistically combined to determine an overall effect (effect size) of one variable on another.

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