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.
Bibliographical noteFunding Information:
This research was funded by The National Social Science Fund of China, as a part of the Youth Project of ‘Resilience of Kunjing Children and Social Work Intervention Research’ (17CSH075).
© The Author(s) 2020.
- Left-behind children
- Social work