The Effects of Family Therapies for Adolescent Delinquency and Substance Abuse: A Meta‐analysis


family therapy, substance abuse, adolescence, delinquency


This meta‐analysis summarizes results from k = 24 studies comparing either Brief Strategic Family Therapy, Functional Family Therapy, Multidimensional Family Therapy, or Multisystemic Therapy to either treatment‐as‐usual, an alternative therapy, or a control group in the treatment of adolescent substance abuse and delinquency. Additionally, the authors reviewed and applied three advanced meta‐analysis methods including influence analysis, multivariate meta‐analysis, and publication bias analyses. The results suggested that as a group the four family therapies had statistically significant, but modest effects as compared to treatment‐as‐usual (d = 0.21; k =11) and as compared to alternative therapies (d = 0.26; k =11). The effect of family therapy compared to control was larger (d = 0.70; k =4) but was not statistically significant probably because of low power. There was insufficient evidence to determine whether the various models differed in their effectiveness relative to each other. Influence analyses suggested that three studies had a large effect on aggregate effect sizes and heterogeneity statistics. Moderator and multivariate analyses were largely underpowered but will be useful as this literature grows.

Original Publication Citation

Baldwin, S. A., *Christian, S., *Berkeljon, A., & Shadish, W. R., with Bean, R. (2012). The effects of family therapies for adolescent delinquency and substance abuse: A meta-analysis. Journal of Marital and Family Therapy, 38(1), 281–304.

Document Type

Peer-Reviewed Article

Publication Date


Permanent URL


Journal of Marital and Family Therapy




Family, Home, and Social Sciences


Family Life

University Standing at Time of Publication

Associate Professor