Fast track randomized controlled trial to prevent externalizing psychiatric disorders: findings from grades 3 to 9.
This study tests the efficacy of the Fast Track Program in preventing antisocial behavior and psychiatric disorders among groups varying in initial risk.
Schools within four sites (Durham, NC; Nashville, TN; Seattle, WA; and rural central Pennsylvania) were selected as high-risk institutions based on neighborhood crime and poverty levels. After screening 9,594 kindergarteners in these schools, 891 highest risk and moderate-risk children (69% male and 51% African American) were randomly assigned by matched sets of schools to intervention or control conditions. The 10-year intervention (begun in 1991 with three yearly cohorts) included parent behavior-management training, child social-cognitive skills training, reading tutoring, home visiting, mentoring, and a universal classroom curriculum. Outcomes included criterion counts and psychiatric diagnoses after grades 3, 6, and 9 for conduct disorder, oppositional defiant disorder, attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder, any externalizing disorder, and self-reported antisocial behavior. Grade 9 outcomes were assessed between 2000 and 2003, depending upon cohort.
Significant interaction effects between intervention and initial risk level were found at each age but most strongly after grade 9. Assignment to intervention had a significant positive effect in lowering criterion count scores and diagnoses for conduct disorder, attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder, and any externalizing disorder, and lowering antisocial behavior scores, but only among those at highest risk initially.
Prevention of serious antisocial behavior can be efficacious across sex, ethnicity, and urban/rural residence, but screening is essential.
CONDUCT PROBLEMS PREVENTION RESEARCH GROUP, ; Dodge, KA
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