BACKGROUND: A systematic review of the literature in 2000 revealed numerous methodological shortcomings in education research, but in recent years progress has been made in the quantity and quality of psycho-educational intervention studies. SUMMARY OF CONTENTS: This review focuses on diabetes education programmes developed for children, young people and their families in the past 5 years. A comprehensive review of the literature identified 27 articles describing the evaluation of 24 psycho-educational interventions. Data summary tables compare the key features of these, and comparisons are made between individual, group and family-based interventions. Effect sizes are calculated for nine of the randomized studies. Three research questions are posed: firstly has the recent literature addressed the problems highlighted in the previous review; secondly is there sufficient evidence to recommend adaptation of a particular programme; and, finally, what do we still need to do? CONCLUSIONS: Progress in the quality and quantity of educational research has not resulted in improved effectiveness of interventions. There is still insufficient evidence to recommend adaptation of a particular educational programme and no programme that has been proven effective in randomized studies for those with poor glycaemic control. To develop a range of effective educational interventions, further research involving larger sample sizes with multicentre collaboration is required.