Family Program Deters Problem Behavior Among Black Teens

Intervention also attenuates substance use, substance use problems, depressive symptoms

MONDAY, Dec. 12 (HealthDay News) -- Participation in a family-oriented preventive intervention reduces conduct problems, substance use, and depressive symptoms among black adolescents, according to a study published online Dec. 12 in Pediatrics.

Gene H. Brody, Ph.D., from the University of Georgia in Athens, and colleagues investigated whether participating in a 22-month family-oriented Strong African American Families-Teen (SAAF-T) program attenuated conduct problems, substance use, and depressive symptoms among adolescents from 502 black families from rural Georgia. The intervention consisted of five separate, concurrent sessions for adolescents and caregivers, followed by a joint caregiver-adolescent session for practicing skills learned in the separate sessions. Self-reported conduct problem behaviors, substance use and substance use problems, and depressive symptoms were assessed at age 16 years (pretest) and at age 17 years and 10 months (long-term assessment). The intervention group results were compared to results from an attention control condition group.

The investigators found that, across the 22 months between the pretest and long-term assessments, adolescents who participated in the SAAF-T program manifested lower increases in conduct problem behavior, substance use, substance use problems, and depressive symptom frequencies, than those in the attention control condition.

"This is the first study to demonstrate efficacy in a prevention program designed to deter conduct problems, substance use, substance use problems, and depressive symptoms among rural black adolescents," the authors write.

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