The Youth Mentoring Network


International Research


This page provides links to a number of overseas systematic reviews and meta-analysis studies that has been undertaken in the field of Youth Mentoring. These cover a wide range of topic areas including:

  • How effective are mentoring programmes for youth?
  • Does mentoring matter?
  • School based mentoring
  • Peer mentoring
  • Mentoring and positive youth development
  • Mentoring relationships

The Chronicle of Evidence-based Mentoring, edited by Jean Rhodes is also an excellent online source that will keep you updated on new finding and ideas about youth mentoring. The goal of the Chronicle is to encourage active dialogue around evidence-based practice in youth mentoring in ways that improve the practice of youth mentoring.  You can register on their website to receive their monthly newsletter.

The National Mentoring Resource Center is another excellent online resource which provides a collection of mentoring handbooks, curricula, manuals, and other resources that practitioners can use to implement and further develop program practices. This growing collection of resources have all been reviewed by the National Mentoring Resource Center Research Board. They all show some level of evidence, however are broken into two tiers depending on the extent. 

The Center for Evidence-Based Mentoring, University of Massachusetts, Boston. The goal of the center is to advance both the production and uptake of evidence-based practice in the field of youth mentoring. We accomplish this goal through the production of research, the facilitation of collaborations, and the dissemination of evidence-based resources.

How effective are mentoring programmes for youth? A systematic assessment of the evidence

Dubois, D. L., Portillo, N., Rhodes, J. E., Silverthorne, N., & Valentine, J. C. (2011). . Psychological Science in the Public Interest, 12, 57-91. doi: 10.1177/1529100611414806

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Abstract: During the past decade, mentoring has proliferated as an intervention strategy for addressing the needs that young people have for adult support and guidance throughout their development. Currently, more than 5,000 mentoring programs serve an estimated three million youths in the United States.  Funding and growth imperatives continue to fuel the expansion of programs as well as the diversification of mentoring approaches and applications. Important questions remain, however, about the effectiveness of these types of interventions and the conditions required to optimize benefits for young people who participate in them. In this article, we use meta-analysis to take stock of the current evidence on the effectiveness of mentoring programs for youth.


Does Mentoring Matter? A Multidisciplinary Meta-Analysis Comparing Mentored and Non-Mentored Individuals

Eby, L. T., Allen, T. D., Evans, S. C., Ng, T., & DuBois, D. (2008). . Journal of Vocational Behaviour, 72(2), 254-267.

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Abstract: The study of mentoring has generally been conducted within disciplinary silos with a specific type of mentoring relationship as a focus. The purpose of this article is to quantitatively review the three major areas of mentoring research (youth, academic, workplace) to determine the overall effect size associated with mentoring outcomes for protégés. We also explored whether the relationship between mentoring and protégé outcomes varied by the type of mentoring relationship (youth, academic, workplace). Results demonstrate that mentoring is associated with a wide range of favourable behavioral, attitudinal, health-related, relational, motivational, and career outcomes, although the effect size is generally small. Some differences were also found across type of mentoring. Generally, larger effect sizes were detected for academic and workplace mentoring compared to youth mentoring. Implications for future research, theory, and applied practice are provided.

School-based mentoring for adolescents: A systematic review and meta-analysis

Wood, S., & Mayo-Wilson, E. (2012). . Research on Social Work Practice, 22, 257-269.

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Abstract: Objectives: To evaluate the impact of school-based mentoring for adolescents (11–18 years) on academic performance, attendance, attitudes, behavior, and self-esteem. Method: A systematic review and meta-analysis. The authors searched 12 databases from 1980 to 2011. Eight studies with 6,072 participants were included, 6 were included in meta-analysis. Studies were assessed using the Cochrane Collaboration Risk of Bias Tool. Results: Across outcomes, effect sizes were very small (random effects), and most were not significant. The magnitude of the largest effect (for self-esteem) was close to zero, g = 0.09, [0.03, 0.14]. Conclusions: The mentoring programs included in this review did not reliably improve any of the included outcomes. Well-designed programs implemented over a longer time might achieve positive results.

Peer Mentoring for Health Behavior Change: A Systematic Review

Petosa, R. L., & Smith, L. (2014).  American Journal of Health Education, 45(6), 351-357. doi: 10.1080/19325037.2014.945670

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Abstract: Peer mentoring can be a powerful complement to health instruction. Mentoring has been used to change health behaviors and promote sustainable lifestyle patterns in adults and, more recently, among adolescents. This article reviews the use of peer mentoring to promote health practices and describes how this approach can be used in school settings.  A systematic review of the literature identified evaluation studies on the effectiveness of peer mentoring for promoting health behavior change is presented. A growing literature supports peer mentoring as an effective approach to health behavior change. Peer mentoring allows for the incorporation of skill-building activities; reinforcement of self-regulation activities; engagement in individual and group activities; and social support to meet personal health goals. With peer mentors, the promotion of health behavior change can be tailored to personal interests, talents, and the contextual environment. Mentoring programs can benefit schools by establishing social networks using positive role models of health behaviors as mentors.

Positive youth development, willful adolescents, and mentoring

Larson, R. (2006).  Journal of Community Psychology, 34, 677-689. doi: 10.1002/jcop.20123

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Abstract: This article describes positive youth development as a process in which young people’s capacity for being motivated by challenge energizes their active engagement in development. The first part of the article discusses the conditions under which this motivation is activated and considers obstacles to its activation in daily life. The second part discusses ways in which caring adults, including mentors, can support this process of positive development.  Several frameworks that provide models of how adults can provide needed structure and guidance while supporting youth’s development as agents of their own growth are discussed.

Developmental Relationships as the Active Ingredient: A Unifying Working Hypothesis of ‘‘What Works’’ Across Intervention Settings

Li, J., & Julian, M. M. (2012). American Journal of Orthopsychiatry, 82(2), 157–166. doi: 10.1111/j.1939-0025.2012.01151.x

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Abstract: Developmental relationships are characterized by reciprocal human interactions that embody an enduring emotional attachment, progressively more complex patterns of joint activity, and a balance of power that gradually shifts from the developed person in favour of the developing person. The working hypothesis of this article is that developmental relationships constitute the active ingredient of effective interventions serving at-risk children and youth across settings. In the absence of developmental relationships, other intervention elements yield diminished or minimal returns. Scaled-up programs and policies serving children and youth often fall short of their potential impact when their designs or implementation drift toward manipulating other ‘‘inactive’’ ingredients (e.g., incentive, accountability, curricula) instead of directly promoting developmental relationships. Using empirical studies as case examples, this study demonstrates that the presence or absence of developmental relationships distinguishes effective and ineffective interventions for diverse populations across developmental settings. The conclusion is that developmental relationships are the foundational metric with which to judge the quality and forecast the impact of interventions for at-risk children and youth. It is both critical and possible to give foremost considerations to whether program, practice, and policy decisions promote or hinder developmental relationships among those who are served and those who serve.