Background/Aim: Children’s early problematic behaviour correlates with later deviant behaviour. The Incredible Years Teacher Classroom Management (IY TCM) programme trains teachers to use proactive strategies to break negative patterns. Decision makers balance information on effectiveness, acceptability, and contextual appropriateness when selecting programmes to support children’s mental and behavioural health. This multilevel meta-analysis and qualitative meta-synthesis answers: What is known about the effectiveness of IY TCM, and how do people experience the programme and its effects?
Methods: RCTs comparing IY TCM against treatment-as-usual or waitlist controls were included in the effectiveness strand. Qualitative interviews and focus groups with key stakeholders were included in the experiential strand. Primary outcomes were teacher management strategies and child conduct problems. Secondary outcomes included child prosocial behaviours. Electronic databases and relevant websites were systematically searched. Multilevel meta-analysis was applied to effect sizes from RCTs. Grounded theory analysis was applied to qualitative data. Cross-synthesis used framework analysis and integrative grids.
Results: Nine studies from England, Ireland, Jamaica, USA, and Wales were included. IY TCM had small effects on reducing negative management strategies and child conduct problems, and moderate effects on increasing positive management strategies. Effects were not statistically significant for increasing child prosocial behaviours. A cyclical process emerged in the qualitative strand. Teachers described benefits relating to increased knowledge, locus-of-control, emotional wellbeing, and practice. RCT and experiential findings were generally harmonious, although qualitative findings suggested a broader conceptualisation of benefits than were quantitatively measured.
Conclusions: IY TCM is effective for reducing problematic behaviours. Teachers report liking and benefiting from IY TCM. Systematically reviewing RCT and qualitative evidence on IY TCM provides comprehensive evidence across effectiveness, acceptability and context, offering a model for future research.