Published 26 February 2014
http://journals.plos.org/plosone/articl ... ne.0089900
Children and adolescents with reading disabilities experience a significant impairment in the acquisition of reading and spelling skills. Given the emotional and academic consequences for children with persistent reading disorders, evidence-based interventions are critically needed. The present meta-analysis extracts the results of all available randomized controlled trials. The aims were to determine the effectiveness of different treatment approaches and the impact of various factors on the efficacy of interventions. The literature search for published randomized-controlled trials comprised an electronic search in the databases ERIC, PsycINFO, PubMed, and Cochrane, and an examination of bibliographical references. To check for unpublished trials, we searched the websites clinicaltrials.com and ProQuest, and contacted experts in the field. Twenty-two randomized controlled trials with a total of 49 comparisons of experimental and control groups could be included. The comparisons evaluated five reading fluency trainings, three phonemic awareness instructions, three reading comprehension trainings, 29 phonics instructions, three auditory trainings, two medical treatments, and four interventions with coloured overlays or lenses. One trial evaluated the effectiveness of sunflower therapy and another investigated the effectiveness of motor exercises. The results revealed that phonics instruction is not only the most frequently investigated treatment approach, but also the only approach whose efficacy on reading and spelling performance in children and adolescents with reading disabilities is statistically confirmed. The mean effect sizes of the remaining treatment approaches did not reach statistical significance. The present meta-analysis demonstrates that severe reading and spelling difficulties can be ameliorated with appropriate treatment. In order to be better able to provide evidence-based interventions to children and adolescent with reading disabilities, research should intensify the application of blinded randomized controlled trials.