Abstract: A Web-Based, Parent-Child Prevention Program to Reduce Dating Aggression Among Middle School Boys (STRONG): Results of a Randomized Pilot Trial (Society for Prevention Research 27th Annual Meeting)

541 A Web-Based, Parent-Child Prevention Program to Reduce Dating Aggression Among Middle School Boys (STRONG): Results of a Randomized Pilot Trial

Friday, May 31, 2019
Pacific A (Hyatt Regency San Francisco)
* noted as presenting author
Christie J. Rizzo, PhD, Associate Professor, Northeastern University, Boston, MA
Christopher D. Houck, PhD, Associate Professor/ Staff Psychologist, Brown University, Providence, RI
Kelsey Bala, BS, Research Assistant, Rhode Island Hospital, Providence, RI
Erik Hood, MS, Doctoral Student, Northeastern University, Boston, MA
Introduction: Dating violence (DV) first emerges in early adolescence and is associated with negative impacts on academic performance, mental health, and psychosocial functioning. Despite broad calls for primary prevention, few programs with demonstrated efficacy exist. Further, the vast majority of existing programs are delivered in small mixed-gender groups and do not capitalize on the importance of parents in modeling and influencing the choices their child makes in their future romantic relationships. Further, there is a dearth of programs designed for males despite growing research that has identified gender differences in risk factors for DV. To address these gaps, STRONG was developed as a web-based intervention for early adolescent males and their parent/guardian to complete together. The goal of this study was to conduct a pilot randomized trial to evaluate the preliminary impact of STRONG relative to a waitlist control.

Methods: Seventh and 8th grade boys were recruited, with a parent (90% mothers), from six urban middle schools in the Providence, RI area (n=119 dyads). Dyads were randomized to either STRONG (n=59) or a waitlist (n=60). STRONG consists of 6 online modules comprised of 4-6 activities (games, videos, etc.) targeting three primary constructs: knowledge, emotion regulation, and communication. Families completed STRONG at their son’s school, at home, or in the community (e.g., public library). Outcomes were assessed at 3- and 9-month follow-ups.

Results: In a completer analyses (n=108/119), controlling for dating status at baseline, results suggest that those randomized to the waitlist were nearly twice as likely at 3-months (OR=1.92 [0.43-8.60]) and nearly 7 times as likely at 9-months (OR=6.76 [0.66-69.59]) to endorse any form of DV perpetration (physical, sexual, verbal/emotional) on the Conflict in Adolescent Dating Relationships Inventory (CADRI), when compared to STRONG families. Further, STRONG had positive effects on parents’ attitudes toward DV at both 3- (d=.19) and 9-months (d= .26). Teen attitudes toward dealing with DV also showed positive differences at both 3- (d=.19) and 9-months (d= .29) compared to waitlist. STRONG was further associated with increased discussion of critical relationship topics from both parent and teen perspectives, greater teen reports of emotional awareness and short-term regulation skills (small to medium effect sizes).

Conclusions: Pilot outcomes indicate that an online DV prevention program designed to engage early adolescent boys and parents is both acceptable and engaging. Further, STRONG had a positive impact on reducing DV behaviors that were maintained over time and demonstrated positive impact on theory-driven mediators.