Abstract: Preventing Behavioral and Mental Health Problems in Middle Schoolers: Teacher-Rated Effects of the Early Adolescent Coping Power Program (Society for Prevention Research 27th Annual Meeting)

406 Preventing Behavioral and Mental Health Problems in Middle Schoolers: Teacher-Rated Effects of the Early Adolescent Coping Power Program

Thursday, May 30, 2019
Marina Room (Hyatt Regency San Francisco)
* noted as presenting author
Catherine Bradshaw, PhD, Professor and Associate Dean for Research & Faculty Development, University of Virginia, Charlottesville, VA
John Edward Lochman, PhD, Professor, University of Alabama, Tuscaloosa, AL
Katrina J. Debnam, PhD, Assistant Professor, University of Virginia, Charlottesville, VA
Elise Pas, PhD, Assistant Scientist, The Johns Hopkins University, Baltimore, MD
Heather McDaniel, MA, Graduate Research Assistant, University of South Carolina, Columbia, SC
Nicholas S Ialongo, Ph.D., Professor, The Johns Hopkins University, Baltimore, MD
Introduction: Previous studies have demonstrated a range of positive effects for the Coping Power Program on upper elementary school children, however, it is less clear if these effects will also generalize to early-adolescents. To address these gaps, the Early Adolescent Coping Power (EACP) program was adapted to meet the social, cognitive, and developmental needs of early adolescents. In turn, the EACP aims to provide developmentally-appropriate intervention and supports to youth, their parents, and teachers to prevent further escalation of conduct and related behavior problems. This presentation summarizes the one-year follow-up effects of the EACP on adolescents’ behavior at school.

Methods: Data come from an ongoing RCT testing the EACP across 40 middle schools in Alabama and Maryland. This presentation will specifically focus on 706 7th graders (59.7% male; 69.6% African-American, 3.6% Hispanic). Schools were randomly assigned to EACP or to a control condition. Approximately 6 7th graders were identified at baseline through a teacher screening process for aggressive behavior and enrolled into the project. The EACP was provided over the course of the 7th grade year, with 1-year follow up in the spring of the 8th grade year. Analyses were conducted on the teacher ratings using the Behavior Assessment System for Children (BASC).

Results: At baseline, over 50% of the sample was in the at-risk or clinically significant range for low adaptive skills and high externalizing problems; approximately 20% was at-risk for or clinical significant for internalizing problems. Three-level hierarchical linear models were conducted on teacher-reported BASC t-scores across three time points (baseline, post-intervention assessment and one year follow-up). Relative to controls over time, EACP youth experienced significant (p<.05) improvements in adaptability (b = 1.98), and reductions in aggression (b = - 2.15), attention problems (b = - 1.58), conduct problems (b = - 1.58), hyperactivity (b = - 2.36), depression (b = - 2.56), and anxiety (b= - 2.36), as well as the two composite scales of externalizing (b = - 2.05) and internalizing problems (b = - 2.62).

Conclusions: These preliminary results suggest that the structured cognitive-behavioral targeted prevention program, which includes youth, parent, and teacher elements, can be adapted for use with early adolescents, and have significant effects on teacher ratings of not only externalizing problems, but also internalizing problems over time. Notably, teachers during the follow-up year were unaware of the intervention condition of the adolescents. As such, the findings provide compelling evidence of the potential for transdiagnostic effects on internalizing as well as externalizing problems in adolescents in the school setting.