Raising Healthy Children: Examining the Impact of Promoting Healthy Driving Behavior within a Social Development Intervention

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Abstract

This study evaluated the impact of two targeted family sessions focused on driving issues delivered within the context of the Raising Healthy Children project. The Raising Healthy Children project began in the fall of 1993, drawing students in the 1st or 2nd grades from 10 schools. Schools were assigned to an intervention or control condition, and the school-wide, family- and student-focused preventive intervention to address developmentally salient risk and protective factors was delivered during elementary and middle school. The family driving sessions were administered to families in the intervention condition prior to and after teenagers received their driver's license. The first session consisted of a home visit with families designed to help parents and their children improve decision-making skills concerning driving and to develop clear standards and expectations regarding driving-related behavior. A second session, at the time of licensure, was designed to help parents and teens develop a written contract that stated family expectations, a plan for monitoring compliance with these expectations, and consequences for compliance or non-compliance.

Consistent with the study's group-randomized design, intervention effects were assessed with multi-level logistic regression models in which students were grouped by their original school assignment. These models assessed specific effects of the driving sessions by adjusting for control variables measured when students were in 8th grade, prior to the driving sessions. Results indicated that students in the intervention group were more likely than students in the control group to report that they had a written driving contract (p =.003, OR = 4.98), and had participated in making the driving rules in the family (p =.025, OR = 1.70). Further, students in the intervention group reported significantly fewer risky behaviors including driving under the influence of alcohol (p =.021, OR =.45) and driving with someone who had been drinking (p =.038, OR =.56).

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