Professor Frances Gardner

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.

Read a project brief for the Malezi Bora programme Frances is working on, funded by the University of Oxford's John Fell OUP Research Fund and a Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada Doctoral Fellowship. DPhil student Kathleen Murphy and Dr Jamie Lachman are also part of the project team.


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.

Current projects

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

Current students