Book Identifies Best Strategies to Prevent Adolescent Problem Behaviors
Four researchers, with different research approaches and perspectives on deviant behavior, spent the 200001 academic year at the Center for Advanced Study in the Behavioral Sciences in Stanford, Calif., to identify new strategies for creating behavior change in adolescent substance abusers.
The researchers, with input from visiting scholars in the field, drafted a book, Helping Adolescents at Risk: Prevention of Multiple Problem Behaviors. Beginning in January 2002, the Society for Prevention Research in Fairfax, Va., took over the project, launching a communications campaign to promote the researchers' recommendations to prevent deviant behaviors in youth. Project staff also produced reports, each of which covered a recommendation from the book in greater detail.
Key Recommendations from the Book
- Local communities should develop measurement systems to monitor childhood and adolescent problem behaviors.
- Programs to prevent adolescents from engaging in multiple deviant behaviors should be tested using both scientific trials, which evaluate whether the program works in a controlled setting, and effectiveness trials, which evaluate whether the program works in myriad community settings.
The Robert Wood Johnson Foundation (RWJF) supported this project with two grants-the first to the Center for Advanced Study in the Behavioral Sciences and the second transferring the remaining balance to the Society for Prevention Research. The total amount was $356,638.
Five institutes or offices within the National Institutes of Health (NIH) also contributed a total of $431,284, which the National Science Foundation administered (see Appendix 1).
For some 50 years, researchers have conducted an array of studies to help understand how deviant behavior is acquired, maintained and influenced. Yet, too often this research does not move from scientific journals to practice. And researchers across disciplines—such as psychology, pharmacology or sociology—do not collaborate often, making it difficult to benefit from one another's expertise.
This grant builds on the recommendations of RWJF's 1997 Sundance Conference (see Grant Results on ID#s 028417 and 030055) to provide researchers with sufficient time and support to become better transdisciplinary researchers.
Based on the Sundance Conference, RWJF funded two additional transdisciplinary efforts focused on tobacco:
- The Tobacco Etiology Research Network (TERN). See Grant Results on the program.
- Partners with Tobacco Use Research Centers (funded jointly with the National Institute of Drug Abuse [NIDA]). See Grant Results on the program.
RWJF staff realized that transdisciplinary research also has the potential to strengthen RWJF's substance abuse strategy outside of tobacco.
The goal of the two projects was to yield important insights into the strengths and potential of interdisciplinary teams to develop approaches that overcome barriers to effective behavioral change and substance abuse prevention.
The Center for Advanced Study in the Behavioral Sciences sponsors a program in which a diverse group of 45 scholars in the humanities and behavioral and social sciences spend a year living at the center and pursuing individual or group research projects. A team of four researchers spent the 200001 academic year in residence at the center to devise new strategies to combat substance abuse. See list of researchers in Appendix 2.
Three of the scholars were psychologists and one was a mathematical sociologist, but all had different research approaches and perspectives on deviant behaviors. Fourteen researchers—from the fields of psychology, psychiatry, sociology, psychopharmacology and public health, among other disciplines—rotated through the center to collaborate on the project. See list of researchers in Appendix 3.
Jaylan Turkkan, at the time the chief of the behavioral and social sciences research branch of NIDA, recruited the project director, Anthony Biglan, who then recruited the other researchers based on their expertise.
Focusing on Adolescents With Multiple Problem Behaviors
Existing evidence suggests that troubled youth who engage in one deviant behavior tend to engage in other deviant behaviors—often leading to a cascade of increasingly destructive behavior patterns. The researchers chose to focus their study on young people who engage in two or more problem behaviors—called "multiproblem youth."
The researchers studied the following five problem behaviors that are most costly to society, using data from several government surveys:
- Antisocial behavior (including aggressive social behavior and more serious acts, such as stealing and assaults).
- Cigarette smoking.
- Alcohol misuse.
- Drug dependence and abuse.
- Risky sexual behavior.
The researchers hypothesized that many of the same biological and environmental factors influence the development of each of these problems, and prevention and treatment interventions will have an impact on more than one of the problems.
Results of the Research Collaboration
While at the center, the scholars researched and wrote a draft of a nine-chapter book, Helping Adolescents at Risk: Prevention of Multiple Problem Behaviors, which was published in 2004. The book includes:
- A review of current knowledge about the epidemiology, cost and etiology (causes) of youth developing multiple problem behaviors.
- Descriptions of a number of interventions along the life span that communities can use to reduce the number of youth who develop multiple problems.
The four primary researchers made a presentation based on the book at the Society for Prevention Research's annual meeting on May 31, 2001, in Washington.
Recommendations From the Book
The researchers made the following recommendations to reduce the number of youth with multiple problem behaviors:
- Local communities should develop measurement systems to monitor childhood and adolescent problem behaviors. For example, Connect Kansas—Supporting Communities That Care provides online data broken down by county on myriad positive and negative factors that impact the emotional and physical health of children and teens. The data include information on topics such as stability of home life, student performance at school and teen involvement in deviant behaviors.
- Programs to prevent adolescents from engaging in multiple deviant behaviors should be tested using both scientific trials, which evaluate whether the program works in a controlled setting, and effectiveness trials, which evaluate whether the program works in myriad community settings. For example, if a new intervention to prevent youth from becoming depressed shows promise in a carefully controlled clinical setting, it should be rolled out to clinics throughout the country to see if the results can be replicated.
- Government agencies should tie research and social program funds together, called "braided funding," so that local organizations can implement and then evaluate promising new prevention programs. For example, funds from NIH could be combined with funds from the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) to implement and test a new prevention program for youth in communities throughout the country.
Communicating the Research on Multiproblem Adolescents
After the 200001 academic year at the Center for Advanced Study, the remaining grant funds ($109,172 from RWJF and $282,864 from NIH) were transferred to the Society for Prevention Research, an organization focused on the advancement of science-based prevention programs and policies through empirical research.
Staff and consultants at the society sent out press releases about the researchers' work and created monographs and white papers that expanded on recommendations in the book. The reports were written primarily to educate federal, state and local policy-makers.
The society also oversaw editing and revisions of the book, primarily by paying staff at the Oregon Research Institute in Eugene, where Biglan is employed as a researcher. As of July 2007, the publisher had sold 1,377 hardcover copies and 830 paperback copies of the book.
Three workgroups at the society, which included some of the researchers and rotating scholars who created the book, produced the following reports during the grant period:
- A monograph—Community-Monitoring Systems: Tracking and Improving the Well-Being of America's Children and Adolescents. Available online.
- A monograph—Standards of Evidence: Criteria for Efficacy, Effectiveness and Dissemination. Available online.
- A white paper—A Case for Braided Prevention Research and Service Funding—which recommends that governmental agencies combine research and service dollars to evaluate the effectiveness of new prevention programs. Available online.
The society also produced for UNESCO the booklet Preventing Behaviour Problems: What Works, which highlights preventive measures schools and communities can take to reduce the chances that children develop serious behavior problems as they reach adolescence. Available online.
- It's difficult to garner mainstream media attention for research projects that do not have a single, compelling story angle. Despite six press releases, the society was not able to generate interest in the book, Helping Adolescents at Risk: Prevention of Multiple Problem Behaviors. Jennifer Lewis, executive director of the society, concluded that the book's subject matter was too broad to appeal to the popular press. "It was almost too much information for the media," she said. "There wasn't something for the media to latch onto." (Jennifer Lewis/Executive Director of the Society for Prevention Research)
AFTER THE GRANT
NIDA plans to publish 200,000 copies of the Society for Prevention Research's monograph, Community-Monitoring Systems: Tracking and Improving the Well-Being of America's Children and Adolescents, according to Biglan.
Standards of Evidence: Criteria for Efficacy, Effectiveness and Dissemination was published in the September 2005 issue of Prevention Science, the Society for Prevention Research's quarterly, peer-reviewed journal.
GRANT DETAILS & CONTACT INFORMATION
Interdisciplinary Project on Behavior Change to Combat Substance Abuse
Center for Advanced Study in the Behavioral Sciences (Stanford, CA)
Dates: August 1999 to July 2001
Society for Prevention Research (Fairfax, VA)
Dates: January 2002 to October 2004
Other Funding Organizations
These institutes or offices within the National Institutes of Health contributed a total of $431,284:
- National Cancer Institute
- National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism
- National Institute on Drug Abuse
- Office of AIDS Research
- Office of Behavioral and Social Science Research
Scholars in Residence at the Center for Advanced Study in the Behavioral Sciences During the 2000-01 Academic Year
Anthony Biglan, Ph.D.
Oregon Research Institute
Patricia Brennan, Ph.D.
Department of Psychology
Sharon Foster, Ph.D.
California School of Professional Psychology
at Alliant International University, San Diego Campus
San Diego, Calif.
Harold Holder, Ph.D.
Director and Senior Research Scientist
Prevention Research Center
Rotating Visiting Scholars at the Center for Advanced Study in the Behavioral Sciences During the 2000-01 Academic Year
Phillippe Cunningham, Ph.D.
Department of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences
Medical University of South Carolina
James H. Derzon, Ph.D.
Pacific Institute for Research and Evaluation
Dennis Embry, Ph.D.
Diana H. Fishbein, Ph.D.
Transdisciplinary Behavioral Science Program
Research Triangle Institute
Research Triangle Park, N.C.
Brian Flay, Ph.D., F.A.A.H.B.
Department of Public Health
Oregon State University
Nick Goeders, Ph.D.
Professor and Head
Department of Pharmacology, Toxicology and Neuroscience
Louisiana State Health Sciences Center
Steven H. Kelder, Ph.D., M.P.H.
Center for Health Promotion and Prevention Research
School of Public Health
University of Texas Health Science Center at Houston
Donald Kenkel, Ph.D.
Department of Policy Analysis and Management
College of Human Ecology
Roger Meyer, M.D.
Association of American Medical Colleges
Ted R. Miller, Ph.D.
Director of Public Services Research Institute
Pacific Institute for Research and Evaluation
Robert A. Zucker, Ph.D.
Professor and Director
Addiction Research Center
University of Michigan
Ann Arbor, Mich.
(Current as of date of this report; as provided by grantee organization; not verified by RWJF; items not available from RWJF.)
Biglan A, Brennan P, Foster S and Holder H. Helping Adolescents at Risk: Prevention of Multiple Problem Behaviors. New York: The Guilford Press, 2004.
Biglan A, Walberg H and Wong M (eds). Preventing Adolescent Problem Behavior. New York: Springer Publishing Co., 2003.
Biglan A and James L. "Making Effective Use of Science to Prevent Problems of Human Behavior." In Innovative Strategies for Preventing Psychological Problems, Glenwick D and James LS (eds). New York: Springer Publishing Co., 2002.
Biglan A and Smolkowski K. "Intervention Effects on Adolescent Drug Use and Critical Influences on the Development of Problem Behavior." In Stages and Pathways of Drug Involvement: Examining the Gateway Hypothesis, Kandel DB (ed). New York: Cambridge University Press, 2002.
Foster S and Crain M. "Social Skills and Problem Solving Training." In Comprehensive Handbook of Psychotherapy, Vol. 2, Patterson T (ed). New York: John Wiley & Sons, 2004.
Sheeber L and Biglan A. "Preventing Dysfunctional Parenting Behavior." In Innovative Strategies for Preventing Psychological Problems, Glenwick D and James L (eds). New York: Springer Publishing Co., 2002.
Brennan P, Grekin E, Mortensen E and Mednick S. "Relationship of Maternal Smoking During Pregnancy With Criminal Arrest and Hospitalization for Substance Abuse in Male and Female Adult Offspring." American Journal of Psychiatry, 159: 4854, 2002. Available online.
Brennan P, Hall J, Bor W, Najman J and Williams J. "Integrating Biological and Social Processes in Relationship to Early-Onset Persistent Aggression in Boys and Girls." Developmental Psychology, 39(2): 309323, 2003. Abstract available online.
Brennan PA, Hammen C, Katz AR and Le Brocque RM. "Maternal Depression, Paternal Psychopathology and Adolescent Diagnostic Outcomes." Journal of Consulting and Clinical Psychology, 70(5): 1075–1085, 2002.
Cunningham P, Foster S and Henggeler S. "The Elusive Concept of Cultural Competence." Children's Services: Social Policy, Research and Practice, 5(3): 231243, 2002.
Flay BR, Biglan A, Boruch RF, Castro FG, Gottfredson D, Kellam S, Moscicki EK, Schinke S, Valentine JC, and Ji P. "Standards of Evidence: Criteria for Efficacy, Effectiveness and Dissemination." Prevention Science, 6(3): 151175, 2005. Abstract available online.
Grekin E, Brennan P, Hodgins S and Mednick S. "Male Criminals With Organic Brain Syndrome: Two Distinct Types Based on Age at First Arrest." American Journal of Psychiatry, 158: 10991104, 2001. Available online.
Hammen C and Brennan P. "Depressed Adolescents of Depressed and Nondepressed Mothers: Tests of an Interpersonal Impairment Hypothesis." Journal of Consulting and Clinical Psychology, 69(2): 284294, 2001. Available online.
Holder H. "Prevention of Alcohol Problems in the 21st Century: Challenges and Opportunities." American Journal of Addictions, 10(1): 115, 2001. Abstract available online.
Holder H. "Community Prevention Trials: A Respectful Partnership." American Journal of Health Behavior, 25(3): 234–244, 2001.
Levy D, Friend K and Holder H. "SimSmoke: A Computer Simulation Model of Smoking Rates, Public Polices and Smoking-Attributed Deaths." Unpublished.
Levy D, Friend K, Holder H and Carmona M. "Effect of Policies Directed at Youth Access to Smoking: Results from the SimSmoke Computer Simulation Model." Tobacco Control, 10(2): 108116, 2001. Abstract available online.
Mash E and Foster S. "Exporting Analogue Behavioral Observation From Research to Clinical Practice: Useful or Cost-Defective." Psychological Assessment. In press.
A Case for Braided Prevention Research and Service Funding. Fairfax, VA: Society for Prevention Research, 2004. Available online.
Foster S, Brennan P, Biglan A, Wang L and al-Ghaith S. Preventing Behaviour Problems: What Works. New York: International Bureau of Education, UNESCO, 2002. Available online.
Mrazek P, Biglan A and Hawkins D (eds.). Community-Monitoring Systems: Tracking and Improving the Well-Being of America's Children and Adolescents. Fairfax, VA: Society for Prevention Research, 2004. Available online.
Standards of Evidence: Criteria for Efficacy, Effectiveness and Dissemination. Fairfax, VA: Society for Prevention Research, 2004. Available online.
Report prepared by: Linda Wilson
Reviewed by: Kelsey Menehan
Reviewed by: Molly McKaughan
Program Officer: Karen K. Gerlach