Interventions to improve adopted children’s mental and physical health

Adopted children have substantially increased risks of mental and health problems compared to other children. The risks mainly concern children who are internationally adopted. It is important to know if interventions for adopted children are effective in improving mental and physical health. SBU has compiled the scientific literature in the field.


What scientific studies are there on the effects of interventions to to improve adopted children’s mental and physical health?

Identified literature

Table 1. Systematic reviews with low/medium risk of bias.

Included studies Population/Intervention Outcome
Drozd et al. (2017). A systematic review of courses, training and interventions for adoptive parents [1].
10 studies, RCT (6) & quasi-experimental (4),
6 studies were from the USA,
3 from the UK and 1 from the Netherlands.
Parents of adopted children, age 0 -15 years. The interventions included attachment oriented, psychoeducational or videofeedback interventions.
The control group were wait-list or treatment-as-usal controls (5), active control (4), and one none described control group.
Eight studies examined intervention effects related to interpersonal functioning; three of which found positive effects. Three studies investigated effects on parenting and stress, respectively, however, only one study demonstrated effects on parenting and none on parental stress.

Adverse effect:
Not reported.
Authors' conclusion: “The results from the included studies does not point in any particular direction. The most consistent finding across studies was the lack of studies on pre-adoption interventions, and poor design and unclear reporting. Future studies should evaluate pre-adopted interventions, and need to use more rigorous design, transparent andcomprehensible reporting, as well as more homogenous interventions and methods, to move the field forward in support of adoptive parents”.


Drozd, Bergsund, Bugge, Hammerstrom, Thune, Hansen, Bergum & Jacobsen. A systematic review of courses, training, and interventions for adoptive parents. Journal of child and family studies 2017;2:339-354.

SBU Enquiry Service Consists of structured literature searches to highlight studies that can address questions received by the SBU Enquiry Service from Swedish healthcare or social service providers. We assess the risk of bias in systematic reviews and when needed also quality and transferability of results in health economic studies. Relevant references are compiled by an SBU staff member, in consultation with an external expert when needed.

Published: 12/9/2020
Report no: ut202034
Registration no: SBU 2020/706