Professor Frances Gardner

Professor Frances Gardner
Research Unit:

Professor Frances Gardner is Professor of Child and Family Psychology in the Department of Social Policy and Intervention, and Fellow of Wolfson College. She has been variously Director and Deputy Director of the graduate programme in Evidence-Based Social Intervention and Policy Evaluation at Oxford since it began in 2003, as well as co-Director of the Centre for Evidence-Based Intervention. 

Her research focuses on the development and testing of parenting interventions for reducing child behaviour problems, and violence against children, in high, as well as low and middle income countries, with projects in the UK, USA, Eastern Europe, South Africa, Tanzania, Thailand and the Philippines. 

She investigates questions about transportability of parenting interventions across cultures and countries, about mechanisms of change, and about the subgroups of families and children for whom these interventions are most effective.

Frances's research focuses primarily on Parenting interventions for reducing child antisocial behaviour and violence against children.  She researches the development of anti-social behaviour or conduct problems in children and young people, particularly how early parenting style influences young people's adjustment, and how this can help inform intervention development, and understand its mechanisms of effect. She conducts randomised controlled trials of community-based parenting programmes in several countries, as well as systematic reviews, investigating questions about effectiveness of parenting interventions for families and children, for reducing antisocial behaviour, and for reducing harsh parenting and violence against children. She has a particular interest in investigating differential effects of interventions for families and children with varying clinical characteristics and from different social and cultural backgrounds; and in parenting intervention mechanisms of change, and transportability across countries and cultures.  She has experience in direct observational methods for assessing parent-child interaction. 

Her secondary area of interest is in Risk and resilience in young people’s mental health:  this work investigates factors promoting poor mental health versus resilient outcomes in young people, using longitudinal studies of the development of antisocial behaviour and other mental health problems in young people, with low income families in the USA, and with orphans and vulnerable children in South Africa. She has also used UK national cohort data to assess how risk factors for antisocial behaviour, such as parenting, have changed over recent decades.

Her work has considerable impact on policy and practice; she advises to government ministries in many countries, as well as to WHO and UNICEF; she is a founder member of WHO’s ‘Parenting for Lifelong Health’ initiative; she serves on the Board of ‘Blueprints for Violence Prevention’, on a WHO Expert Panel on Standard of Evidence in Violence Prevention, and previously, the Scientific Advisory Board for the National Academy of Parenting Practitioners, and for SFI, the Danish National Centre for Social Research; and on a UNODC Expert Panel on worldwide family skills training. She is Associate Editor of ‘Prevention Science’, and serves on the Editorial Board of the Journal of Abnormal Child Psychology.

Leijten, P., Gardner, F., Landau, S., Harris, V., Mann, J., Hutchings, J., Beecham, J., Bonin, E.M. and Scott, S. (2017). Harnessing the power of individual participant data in a meta‐ analysis of the benefits and harms of the Incredible Years parenting program. Journal of Child Psychology and Psychiatry.

Gardner, F., Leijten, P., Melendez-Torres, G.J., Harris, V., Landau, S., Mann,J., Beecham,J., Hutchings, J., & Scott, S. (2017). The earlier the better? Individual participant data and traditional meta-analysis of age effects of parenting interventions. Child Development. Invited submission for special issue, under review.

Vlahovicova, K., Melendez-Torres, G.J., Leijten, P. Knerr, W & Gardner, F. (2017) Parenting programs for the prevention of child physical abuse recurrence: a systematic review and meta-analysis. Clinical Child & Family Psychology Review. Open access:

Leijten, P., Melendez-Torres, GJ., Knerr, W., Gardner, F. (2016). Transported versus homegrown parenting interventions for reducing disruptive child behavior: a multilevel meta-regression study. Journal of the American Academy of Child & Adolescent Psychiatry. 55, 610-617

Gardner, F., Knerr, W., Montgomery, P. (2016). Transporting evidence-based parenting programs for child problem behavior (age 3-10) between countries: Systematic review and meta-analysis. Journal of Clinical Child and Adolescent Psychology. 45, 749-762. Open access:

Dishion, T. J., Mun, C. J., Tein, J. Y., Kim, H., Shaw, D. S., Gardner, F., ... & Peterson, J. (2016). The Validation of Macro and Micro Observations of Parent–Child Dynamics Using the Relationship Affect Coding System in Early Childhood. Prevention Science, 1-13.

Shaw, D. S., Sitnick, S. L., Brennan, L. M., Choe, D. E., Dishion, T. J., Wilson, M. N., & Gardner, F. (2016). The long-term effectiveness of the Family Check-Up on school-age conduct problems: Moderation by neighborhood deprivation. Development and Psychopathology, 28, 1471-1486

Ward, C. L, Sanders, M., Gardner, F, Mikton, C. & Dawes, A. (2015). Effective implementation of parenting programmes in low- and middle-income countries: A public health research agenda. Child Abuse & Neglect, 54, 97-107

Gottfredson, D., Cook, T., Gardner, F., Gorman-Smith, D., Howe, G., Sandler, I., Zafft, K. (2015). Standards of Evidence for Efficacy, Effectiveness, and Scale-up Research in Prevention Science: Next Generation. Prevention Science, 16 (7), 893-926, Open access:

Knerr, W., Gardner, F., & Cluver, L. (2013). Improving Positive Parenting Skills and Reducing Harsh and Abusive Parenting in Low- and Middle-Income Countries: A Systematic Review. Prevention Science, 14 (4), 352-363

Waller, R., Gardner, F., & Hyde, L. (2013). Parenting as predictor of callous unemotional traits in young people: a systematic review. Clinical Psychology Review, 33, 593–608. IF 8

Collishaw, S., Gardner, F., Maughan, B, Scott, J & Pickles, A. (2011). Historical change in parenting of adolescents: Can it explain the rise in youth problem behavior? Journal of Abnormal Child Psychology, 40, 119-132 df?sequence=1

Gardner, F., Hutchings, J. & Bywater, T., & Whitaker, C. (2010). Who benefits and how does it work? Moderators and mediators of outcomes in a randomised trial of parenting interventions in multiple ‘Sure Start’ services. Journal of Clinical Child and Adolescent Psychology, 39, 568-80. Open access:

Dishion T, Shaw D, Connell A, Gardner F. et al (2008). The Family Check-Up with highrisk families: preventing problem behavior by increasing parents’ positive behavior support in early childhood. Child Development, 79, 1395-1414

Gardner F, Burton J, Klimes I. (2006). Randomised trial of a parenting intervention in the voluntary sector for reducing child conduct problems. Journal of Child Psychology & Psychiatry, 47, 1123-32.

Frances would be especially interested in supervising doctoral students wishing to work on the following topics: 
· Parenting and Family Interventions (primarily)
· Child Mental Health – prevention and treatment
· Development and Prevention of anti-social and risky behaviour in young people
· Child and Family interventions in developing countries
· Child maltreatment

  • Combining agribusiness and skillful parenting to reduce the risk of violence against children in rural Tanzania: A small-scale cluster randomized controlled trial

  • The Earlier the Better? Individual Participant Data and Traditional Meta-Analysis of Age Effects of Parenting Interventions for Pre-Adolescent Children.

  • Resilience in high-risk adolescents of mothers with recurrent depressive disorder: The contribution of fathers.

  • Are Relationship Enhancement and Behavior Management "The Golden Couple" for Disruptive Child Behavior? Two Meta-analyses.

  • Pathways linking war and displacement to parenting and child adjustment: A qualitative study with Syrian refugees in Lebanon.

  • Randomized controlled trial of a parenting program to reduce the risk of child maltreatment in South Africa.


  • What are the factors associated with educational achievement for children in kinship or foster care: A systematic review

  • Assessing treatment effect moderation in trials of psychological interventions: a case for individual participant data meta-analysis of pooled trials

  • The long-term effectiveness of the Family Check-Up on school-age conduct problems: Moderation by neighborhood deprivation.

  • More
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