Introduction: There is increasing interest in the transferability of parenting interventions from high-income countries (HICs) to low-income countries (LICs) in order to improve child development and health outcomes. This is based on the premise that associations between parenting practices and child outcomes are similar in both settings. Many parenting interventions in HICs are evidence-based, but less evidence exists on associations of parenting practices with child outcomes in LICs, in particular, sub-Saharan African (SSA) countries. This review synthesises evidence on the association of parenting practices with child outcomes in SSA in order to compare findings with those from HICs.
Methods: We searched electronic databases-Web of Science, ASSIA, Embase, IBSS and PsycINFO-to identify studies from SSA that reported quantitative associations between parenting practices and child health or psychosocial outcomes (eg, sexual and reproductive health (SRH), mental health, conduct disorders). Due to inconsistent conceptual framing of parenting across studies, we used a modified version of the international WHO classification of parenting dimensions to guide synthesis of the results.
Results: Forty-four studies met our inclusion criteria. They were conducted in 13 SSA countries and included cross-sectional and longitudinal studies, and were predominantly descriptive studies rather than intervention research. Synthesis of results showed that associations between patterns of parenting ('positive'/'harsh') and child outcomes (including SRH, mental health and conduct disorders) in studies from SSA were broadly similar to those found in HICs.
Conclusions: These findings suggest that the impacts of parenting practices on child outcomes are similar across contrasting global regions and, therefore, parenting interventions from HICs might be successfully transferred to SSA, subject to appropriate adaptation. However, this review also highlights the paucity of evidence in this area and the urgent need for higher quality studies to confirm these findings to help develop effective parenting interventions in SSA.