Effects of school-based cognitive-behavioral anger interventions: A meta-analysis

Julia G Lavenberg, University of Pennsylvania


Aggressive behavior continues to be a significant problem for youth in the school setting. This study systematically reviewed school-based cognitive-behavioral anger interventions to evaluate their impact on reducing child and adolescent aggressive behavior. A comprehensive multimodal approach was used to locate pertinent studies within education, crime and justice, psychology, and social welfare, including electronic database searches, hand searches of printed material, and use of informal channels of communication. Of more than 900 reports initially identified, 30 randomized and quasi-experimental studies, involving a total of 2904 participants, met the inclusion criteria. Descriptive analyses revealed that most interventions were implemented in public elementary schools in suburban areas. Bivariate correlations showed that published reports had significantly higher effect sizes than unpublished reports. Meta-analyses demonstrated little difference between fixed and random effects models, suggesting that variability between studies was minimal. Overall, cognitive-behavioral anger interventions significantly reduced aggressive behavior, with the average intervention participant experiencing a reduction of 62% compared to the average untreated control or placebo group participant. This effect was maintained at one-year follow-up. Cumulative meta-analyses uncovered the fact that the effect size has been consistent and significant for over twenty years. Moderator analyses indicated that students attending schools in urban and suburban areas experienced significantly more reductions than students attending alternative or rural schools. Interventions with older elementary and middle school students were more effective than those implemented with younger elementary or high school students. Further, statistically significant effects were found for interventions delivered by counselors, researchers, and teachers. These findings support previous meta-analyses on the effectiveness of cognitive-behavioral interventions for anger and suggest that these interventions are useful in reducing child and adolescent aggressive behavior when delivered in the school setting. Utilization of school-based cognitive-behavioral interventions to address the issue of student aggression, therefore, should be considered by educators and policymakers. Future research attention should be directed to that of investigating and identifying the specific elements related to the effectiveness of the interventions for different populations.

Subject Area

Behaviorial sciences|Academic guidance counseling

Recommended Citation

Lavenberg, Julia G, "Effects of school-based cognitive-behavioral anger interventions: A meta-analysis" (2007). Dissertations available from ProQuest. AAI3271850.