Cross-age peer mentoring for youth: A meta-analysis

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Cross-age peer mentoring for youth: A meta-analysis

Burton, S., Raposa, E.B., Poon, C.Y., Stams, G, & Rhodes, J. American Journal of Community Psychology. (Mar, 2021)


The study delves into the growing trend of cross-age peer mentoring programs, which leverage the availability of youth mentors to foster positive outcomes in their younger counterparts. The research employed a multilevel meta-analytic approach to gauge the efficacy of these programs and to identify potential factors that might influence their effectiveness.


A comprehensive literature search was conducted, targeting publications up until April 2019. The criteria for inclusion encompassed formal mentoring programs where the mentor was at least two years older than the mentee. Both randomized controlled trials and quasi-experimental studies were considered. The analysis aimed to:
-Estimate the overall effect size of cross-age peer mentoring programs.
-Differentiate effects across diverse outcome categories.
-Examine potential moderating factors, including youth, mentor, and program characteristics.
-Assess the role of publication bias in the overall effect size.


The analysis, which included six studies, revealed a medium-sized overall effect of cross-age peer mentoring programs (g = 0.45). Certain characteristics, such as programs conducted outside of school settings (e.g., during weekends, summers, or in community settings), those held in urban environments, and those with moderate to high levels of adult oversight and supervision, exhibited larger effects.


The findings underscore the potential benefits of cross-age peer mentoring for youth. Such programs can serve as accessible interventions to promote positive youth outcomes, especially when they incorporate moderate to high levels of adult oversight and supervision. This study stands as the first meta-analytic assessment of the impact of cross-age peer mentoring programs.