Meaningful Change and Treatment Responsivity in Intervention Research: A Targeted Review of Studies Published in the Journal of Pediatric Psychology

Michael J. Dolgin, Ariel Asper, Yair Greizer, Yisca Kariel, Meshi Malka, Or Peretz, Natan Rosenzweig, Shani Shalev, David E. Sandberg

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Objective Randomized-controlled trials (RCTs) in pediatric psychology form the foundation for evidence-based treatment and best practices in the field. Relying heavily on continuous outcome measures and group comparisons, questions concerning meaningful clinical change and treatment response rates remain open. This targeted review aimed to provide an initial description of the current state of intervention research in pediatric psychology in terms of attention to meaningful clinical change and efforts to assess and characterize participants in terms of treatment responsivity; Methods Online databases were used to identify a sample of RCT published in the Journal of Pediatric Psychology from 2010 to 2021 using the term “randomized” in the title. Using predefined eligibility and exclusion criteria, 43 studies were identified and analyzed with regard to characteristics of intervention, population, measurement, data reporting, and reference to indicators of clinical significance, meaningful change, treatment responsivity rates, and predictors; Results 26 studies (60%) made no reference at all to meaningful clinical change, treatment response criteria and rates, or characteristics of treatment responders. 15 studies (35%) reported measures of meaningful change in their interpretation of group differences, to calculate sample size, in relation to baseline data only, or in describing a measure. 2 studies (5%) reported criteria for assessing meaningful change to determine individual response rates and characteristics of responders; Conclusions These findings highlight the need for greater emphasis on defining standards and analyzing treatment outcome research in terms of metrics of meaningful change and treatment response in order to better target intervention and optimize limited resources.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)723-741
Number of pages19
JournalJournal of Pediatric Psychology
Issue number6
StatePublished - 1 Jul 2022


  • evidence-based treatment
  • meaningful change
  • randomized-controlled trials
  • responsivity


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