Effective components of social skills training programs for children and adolescents in nonclinical sample: A multilevel meta-analysis

B. de Mooij*, M. Fekkes, R. H. J. Scholte, G. Overbeek

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleScientificpeer-review

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Social skills training (SST) programs for nonclinical children and adolescents are known to have positive effects on social skills, but it remains unclear how distinct training components are related to program effects. This multilevel meta-analysis examines how psychoeducation (i.e., exercises aimed at the transfer of knowledge), psychophysical components (i.e., physical exercises aimed at improving self-confidence and trust in others), skill-building components (i.e., exercises aimed at improving interpersonal skills), and cognitive-emotional components (i.e., exercises aimed at changing emotions and cognitions) are independently related to SST program effects. We extracted data from 97 articles describing 839 effect sizes. Training content data were extracted from 60 corresponding SST programs. Our results showed that SST programs had a positive effect on the development of interpersonal skills and emotional skills in nonclinical samples: d = .369, 95% CI [.292, .447], p < .001. This effect was positively influenced by the inclusion of psychoeducation and skill-building components. The inclusion of psychophysical components and the number of cognitive-emotional components did not influence program effects. For psychoeducation and skill-building components, we observed a curvilinear relationship between intensity and effect size: programs including three to six psychoeducational exercises yielded larger effect sizes compared to programs with more or fewer psychoeducational exercises, and programs with 11 to 20 skill-building exercises outperformed programs with more or fewer skill-building exercises. These findings are an indication that psychoeducational components and skill-building components are related to larger SST program effects, granted that the dosage is right.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)250-264
JournalClinical Child and Family Psychology Review
Publication statusPublished - 2020


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