A scoping review of interventions to promote health and well-being of left-behind children in mainland China

Miao Wang, Bryan G. Victor, Jun Sung Hong, Shiyou Wu, Jin Huang, Hui Luan, Brian E. Perron

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

11 Scopus citations


Approximately 65 million children in mainland China are left behind in rural areas while their parents work in the cities. Research has highlighted their health needs. However, current research on interventions for this population is unknown. The purpose of this study was to systematically review existing health service interventions for left-behind children in China. The study team identified interventions for left-behind children by conducting a comprehensive search of major academic databases for Chinese and English research. Articles were retained in the study if they were original empirical intervention studies that target health and related well-being outcomes of left-behind children. A total of eighteen unique studies met inclusion criteria. The majority of them demonstrated positive outcomes using various modalities, including education, sport and nutrition guidance and nursing services. However, the shortcomings in research design and intervention limit their replication. Intervention research for left-behind children shows an enormous gap in the knowledge about this at-risk group. Of the existing programs identified, we observe considerable promise for interventions based on inter-disciplinary approaches to services. We provide additional recommendations for conducting future research and for building collaborative relationships with social workers to better serve the needs of children.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1419-1439
Number of pages21
JournalBritish Journal of Social Work
Issue number5
StatePublished - 1 Jul 2020

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© The Author(s) 2020.


  • China
  • Health
  • Intervention
  • Left-behind children
  • Social work


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