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Effects of Two Prevention Programs on High-Risk Behaviors Among African American Youth: A Randomized Trial

Brian R. Flay, Sally Graumlich, Eisuke Segawa, James L. Burns, Michelle Y. Holliday


OBJECTIVE: To test the efficacy of 2 programs designed to reduce high-risk behaviors among inner-city African American youth. DESIGN: Cluster randomized trial. SETTING: Twelve metropolitan Chicago, Ill, schools and the communities they serve, 1994 through 1998. PARTICIPANTS: Students in grades 5 through 8 and their parents and teachers. INTERVENTIONS: The social development curriculum (SDC) consisted of 16 to 21 lessons per year focusing on social competence skills necessary to manage situations in which high-risk behaviors occur. The school/community intervention (SCI) consisted of SDC and school-wide climate and parent and community components. The control group received an attention-placebo health enhancement curriculum (HEC) of equal intensity to the SDC focusing on nutrition, physical activity, and general health care. MAIN OUTCOME MEASURES: Student self-reports of violence, provocative behavior, school delinquency, substance use, and sexual behaviors (intercourse and condom use). RESULTS: For boys, the SDC and SCI significantly reduced the rate of increase in violent behavior (by 35% and 47% compared with HEC, respectively), provoking behavior (41% and 59%), school delinquency (31% and 66%), drug use (32% and 34%), and recent sexual intercourse (44% and 65%), and improved the rate of increase in condom use (95% and 165%). The SCI was significantly more effective than the SDC for a combined behavioral measure (79% improvement vs 51%). There were no significant effects for girls. CONCLUSIONS: Theoretically derived social-emotional programs that are culturally sensitive, developmentally appropriate, and offered in multiple grades can reduce multiple risk behaviors for inner-city African American boys in grades 5 through 8. The lack of effects for girls deserves further research.

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Contributed on 4/12/2010

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