Mediation of a Preventive Intervention's 6-Year Effects on Health Risk Behaviors


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Abstract

Using data from a 6-year longitudinal follow-up sample of 240 youth who participated in a randomized experimental trial of a preventive intervention for divorced families with children ages 9 to 12, the current study tested mechanisms by which the intervention reduced substance use and risky sexual behavior in mid to late adolescence (15–19 years old). Mechanisms tested included parental monitoring, adaptive coping, and negative errors. Parental monitoring at 6-year follow-up mediated program effects to reduce alcohol and marijuana use, polydrug use, and other drug use for those with high pretest risk for maladjustment. In the condition that included a program for mothers only, increases in youth adaptive coping at 6-year follow-up mediated program effects on risky sexual behavior for those with high pretest risk for maladjustment. Contrary to expectation, program participation increased negative errors and decreased adaptive coping among low-risk youth in some of the analyses. Ways in which this study furthers our understanding of pathways through which evidence-based preventive interventions affect health risk behaviors are discussed.

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