Does attendance at preschool affect adult health? A systematic review

D'Onise, K., McDermott, R.A., and Lynch, J.W. (2010) Does attendance at preschool affect adult health? A systematic review. Public Health, 124 (9). pp. 500-511.

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Background: Early child development interventions can set children on positive social and educational trajectories. The aim of this review was to examine the evidence for the adult health impacts of centre-based preschool interventions for preschoolers.

Methods: Medline, Embase, ERIC, Psych Info, Sociological Abstracts, the Cochrane Library, C2-SPECTR and the Head Start database were searched (1980-2008), and reference lists were searched for articles missed by the electronic search.

Results: The 12 eligible articles reviewed reported multi-faceted interventions and involved disadvantaged populations in all but one study. Limitations included a restricted range of health outcomes, reliance on self-report measures (11 studies), small sample sizes (nine studies with <100 in each arm) and a relatively young adult age at follow-up. There were positive intervention effects across the majority of behavioural outcomes, and a suggestion of a reduction in symptoms of depression. Non-communicable disease outcomes (e. g. diabetes mellitus) tended to have adverse or near-zero effect estimates.

Conclusions: The reviewed articles provide some support for the role of early childhood interventions to improve health behaviours but not chronic disease outcomes. Population health researchers should become more involved in the evaluation of preschool interventions as there is great potential for broad population health benefit.

Item ID: 35802
Item Type: Article (Research - C1)
ISSN: 1476-5616
Keywords: preschool, early intervention, child development
Funders: National Health and Medical Research Council of Australia (NHMRC), National Heart Foundation
Date Deposited: 15 Oct 2014 16:48
FoR Codes: 11 MEDICAL AND HEALTH SCIENCES > 1117 Public Health and Health Services > 111704 Community Child Health @ 100%
SEO Codes: 92 HEALTH > 9205 Specific Population Health (excl. Indigenous Health) > 920501 Child Health @ 100%
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