Journal of Abnormal Child Psychology

, Volume 35, Issue 4, pp 605–617 | Cite as

The Early Risers Preventive Intervention: Testing for Six-year Outcomes and Mediational Processes

  • Debra H. Bernat
  • Gerald J. August
  • Joel M. Hektner
  • Michael L. Bloomquist
Original Paper


We examined effects of the Early Risers “Skills for Success” early-age-targeted prevention program on serious conduct problems following 5 years of continuous intervention and one year of follow-up. We also examined if intervention effects on proximally-targeted variables found after 3 years mediated intervention effects on conduct problems found after 6 years. Participants included 151 at-risk children (106 males and 45 females) followed from first through sixth-grade, from 23 semi-rural schools in Minnesota. After 6 years, program children showed fewer oppositional defiant disorder (ODD) symptoms than control children. Program children did not significantly differ from controls on number of conduct disorder (CD) symptoms, DSM-IV diagnoses of ODD and CD, or drug use involvement. Results of the mediation analysis indicated that fewer ODD symptoms among program youth after 6 years were partially mediated by social skills and effective discipline. The study provides support for the early-starter model of conduct problems development that provides the framework for the Early Risers intervention. The study’s implications for prevention and limitations are discussed.


Prevention Mediation Aggression Oppositional defiant disorder Conduct problems 



This study was supported by the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, Princeton, NJ, Grant # 038725, and the Center for Substance Abuse Prevention (SAMHSA/CSAP), Grant SP96 (Predictor Variables and Development).


  1. Achenbach, T. M. (1991). Manual for the teacher’s report form and 1991 profile. Burlington, VT: Department of Psychiatry, University of Vermont.Google Scholar
  2. Achenbach, T. M., McConaughy, S. H., & Howell, C. T. (1987). Child/adolescent behavioral and emotional problems: Implications of cross-informant correlations for situational specificity. Psychological Bulletin, 101, 213–232.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  3. August, G. J., Bloomquist, M. L., Realmuto, G. M., & Hektner, J. M. (2007). The Early Risers ‘Skills for Success’ program: A targeted intervention for preventing conduct problems and substance abuse in aggressive elementary school children. In P. H. Tolan, J. Szapocznick, & S. Sambrano (Eds.), Preventing youth substance abuse: Science-based programs for children and adolescents (pp. 137–158). Washington, DC: American Psychological Association.Google Scholar
  4. August, G. J., Egan, E. A., Realmuto, G. M., & Hektner, J. M. (2003a). Four years of the Early Risers early-age-targeted preventive intervention. Effects on aggressive children’s peer relations. Behavioral Therapy, 34, 453–470.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  5. August, G. J., Egan, E. E., Realmuto, G. M., & Hektner, J.M (2003b). Parceling component effects of a multifaceted prevention program for disruptive elementary school children. Journal of Abnormal Child Psychology, 31, 515–527.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  6. August, G. J., Hektner, J. M., Egan, E. A., Realmuto, G. M., & Bloomquist, M. L. (2002). The Early Risers longitudinal prevention trial: Examination of 3-year outcomes in aggressive children with intent-to-treat and as-intended analyses. Psychology of Addictive Behaviors, 16(4S), S27--S39.PubMedGoogle Scholar
  7. August, G. J., Lee, S. S., Bloomquist, M. L., Realmuto, G. M., & Hektner, J. M. (2003). Dissemination of an evidence-based preventive innovation for aggressive children living in diverse, urban neighborhoods. Prevention Science, 4, 271–286.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  8. August, G. J., Lee, S. S., Bloomquist, M. L., Realmuto, G. M., & Hektner, J. M. (2004). Maintenance effects of an evidence-based preventive innovation for aggressive children living in culturally diverse, urban neighborhoods: The Early Risers effectiveness study. Journal of Emotional and Behavioral Disorders, 12.Google Scholar
  9. August, G. J., Realmuto, G. M., Hektner, J. M., & Bloomquist, M. L. (2001). An integrated components preventive intervention for aggressive elementary school children: The Early Risers program. Journal of Consulting and Clinical Psychology, 69, 614–626.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  10. August, G. J., Realmuto, G. M., Joyce, T., & Hektner, J. M. (1999). Persistence and desistance of oppositional defiant disorder in a community sample of children with ADHD. Journal of the American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry, 38, 1262–1270.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  11. August, G. J., Realmuto, G. M., Winters, K. C., & Hektner, J. M. (2001). Prevention of adolescent drug abuse: Targeting high-risk children with a multifaceted intervention model—The Early Risers “Skills for Success” program. Applied & Preventive Psychology, 10, 135–154.Google Scholar
  12. Bagwell, C. L., Coie, J. D., Terry, R. A., & Lochman, J. E. (2000). Peer clique participation in middle childhood: Associations with sociometric status and gender. Merrill-Palmer Quarterly, 46, 280–305.Google Scholar
  13. Baron, R. M., & Kenny, D. A. (1986). The moderator-mediator distinction in social psychological research: Conceptual, strategic, and statistical considerations. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 51, 1173–1182.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  14. Barrera, M., Biglan, A., Taylor, T. K., Gunn, B. K., Smolkowski, K., Black, C., et al. (2002). Early elementary school intervention to reduce conduct problems: A randomized trial with Hispanic and non-hispanic children. Prevention Science, 3, 83–94.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  15. Bloomquist, M. L., August, G. J., Lee, S., Berquist, B. B., & Mathy, R. (2005). Targeted prevention of antisocial behavior in children: The Early Risers “Skills for Success” Program. In R. G. Steele & M. C. Roberts (Eds.), Handbook of mental health services for children, adolescents, and families (pp. 201–214). New York: Kluwer Academic/Plenum Publishers.Google Scholar
  16. Bloomquist, M. L., Lee, S. S., & August, G. J. (2006). Sustainability of the Early Risers Program financial infrastructure through a local county and community-based family services agency. Paper presented at the 14th Annual Meeting of the Society for Prevention Research, San Antonio, TX.Google Scholar
  17. Brestan, E. V., & Eyberg, S. M. (1998). Effective psychosocial treatments of conduct-disordered children and adolescents : 29 years, 82 studies, and 5272 kids. Journal of Clinical Child Psychology, 27, 180–189.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  18. Coie, J. D., & Dodge, K. A. (1998). Aggression and antisocial behavior. In W. Damon & N. Eisenberg (Ed.) (Vol. Ed.), Handbook of child psychology: Vol. 3. Social, emotional, and personality development (5th ed., pp. 779–862). New York: Wiley.Google Scholar
  19. Conduct Problems Prevention Research Group. (1992). A developmental and clinical model for the prevention of conduct disorder: The FAST Track Program. Development and Psychopathology, 4, 509–527.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  20. Conduct Problems Prevention Research Group. (2002a). Evaluation of the first three years of the Fast Track Prevention Trial with children at high risk for adolescent conduct problems. Journal of Abnormal Child Psychology, 30, 19–35.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  21. Conduct Problems Prevention Research Group. (2002b). Using the Fast Track randomized prevention trial to test the early-starter model of the development of serious conduct problems. Development and Psychopathology, 14, 925–943.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  22. Conduct Problems Prevention Research Group. (2004). The effects of the Fast Track Program on serious problem outcomes at the end of elementary school. Journal of Clinical Child and Adolescent Psychology, 33(4), 650–661.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  23. Dishion, T. J., Spracklen, K. M., Andrews, D. W., & Patterson, G. R. (1996). Deviancy training in male adolescent friendships. Behavioral Therapy, 27, 373–390.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  24. Dodge, K. A., Bates, J. E., & Pettit, G. S. (1990). Mechanisms in the cycle of violence. Science, 250, 1678–1683.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  25. Dumas, J. E., Prinz, R. J., Smith, E. P., & Laughlin, J. (1999). The Early Alliance Prevention Trial: An integrated set of interventions to promote competence and reduce risk for conduct disorder, substance abuse, and school failure. Clinical Child and Family Psychology Review, 2, 37–53.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  26. Erdley, C. A., Nangle, D. W., Newman, J. E., & Carpenter, E. M. (2001). Children’s friendship experiences and psychological adjustment: Theory and research. In D. Nangle & C. Erdley (Eds.), The role of friendship in psychological adjustment. New directions for child and adolescent development (pp. 5–24). San Francisco:Jossey-Bass/Pfeiffer.Google Scholar
  27. Greenberg, M. T., Kusche, C. A., & Speltz, M. (1990). Emotion regulation, self-control, and psychopathology: The role of relationships in early childhood. In D. Cicchetti & S. Toth (Eds.), Rochester symposium on developmental psychopathology (Vol. 2, pp. 21–56). New York: Cambridge University Press.Google Scholar
  28. Grills, A. E., & Ollendick, T. H. (2002). Issues in parent-child agreement: The case of structured diagnostic interviews. Clinical Child and Family Psychology Review, 5, 57–83.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  29. Haapasalo, J., & Tremblay, R. E. (1994). Physically aggressive boys from ages 6 to 12: Family background, parenting behavior, and prediction to delinquency. Journal of Consulting and Clinical Psychology, 62, 1044–1052.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  30. Harter, S. (1985). Self-perception profile for children. Denver, CO: University of Denver.Google Scholar
  31. Hawkins, J. D., Von Cleve, E., & Catalano, R. F. (1991). Reducing early childhood aggression: Results of a primary prevention program. Journal of the American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry, 30, 208–217.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  32. Hektner, J. M., August, G. J., & Realmuto, G. M. (2000). Technical reports for the development of global constructs for the measurement of risk factors in the Early Risers program. Unpublished manuscript. University of Minnesota, Minneapolis, MN.Google Scholar
  33. Hoza, B., Mrug, S., Pelham, W. E., Greiner, A. R., & Gnagy, E. M. (2003). A friendship intervention of children with attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder: Preliminary findings. Journal of Attention Disorders, 6, 87–98PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  34. Johnston, L., O’Malley, P., & Bachman, J. (2000). National survey results on drug use from the monitoring the future study 1999. Rockville, MD: National Institute on Drug Abuse.Google Scholar
  35. Kaufman, A. S., & Kaufman, N. L. (1990). Kaufman brief intelligence test: Manual. Circle Pines, MN: American Guidance Service.Google Scholar
  36. Lahey, B. B., Loeber, R., Quay, H. C., Frick, P. J., & Grimm, J. (1992). Oppositional defiant and conduct disorders: Issues to be resolved in DSM-IV. Journal of the American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry, 31, 539–536.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  37. Lochman, J. E., & Dodge, K. A. (1994). Social cognitive processes of severely violent, moderately aggressive, and nonaggressive boys. Journal of Consulting and Clinical Psychology, 62, 366–374.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  38. Lochman, J. E. & Wells, K. C. (1996). A social-cognitive intervention with aggressive children: Prevention effects and contextual implementation issues. In R. D. Peters & R. J. McMahon (Eds.), Prevention and early intervention: Childhood disorders, substance use and delinquency (pp. 111–143). Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage.Google Scholar
  39. Lochman, J. E., & Wells, K. C. (2002). Contextual social-cognitive mediators and child outcome: A test of the theoretical model in the Coping Power program. Development and Psychopathology, 14, 2002.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  40. Loeber, R., Green, S. M., Lahey, B. B., & Stouthamer-Loeber, M. (1991). Differences and similarities between children, mothers, and teachers as informants on disruptive child behavior. Journal of Abnormal Child Psychology, 19(1), 75–95.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  41. Loeber, R., Lahey, B. B., & Thomas, C. (1991). Diagnostic conundrum of oppositional defiant disorder and conduct disorder. Journal of Abnormal Psychology, 100, 379–390.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  42. Luellen, J. K., Shadish, W. R., & Clark, M. H. (2005). Propensity scores: An introduction and experimental test. Evaluation Review, 29(6), 530–558.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  43. MacKinnon, D. P. (1994). Analysis of mediating variables in prevention and intervention research. In A. Cazares & L. A. Beatty (Eds.), Scientific methods for prevention intervention research (pp. 127–153). NIDA Research Monograph 139. DHHS publ. no. 94-3631. Washington, DC: US Government Printing Office.Google Scholar
  44. Miller-Johnson, S., Coie, J. D., Maumary-Gremaud, A., & Bierman, K., and the Conducts Problems Prevention Research Group. (2002). Journal of Abnormal Child Psychology, 30, 217–230.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  45. Moffitt, T. E. (1993). Adolescent-limited and life-course persistent antisocial behavior: A developmental taxonomy. Psychological Review, 100, 674–701.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  46. Murray, D. M. (1998). Design and analysis of group-randomized trials. New York: Oxford University Press.Google Scholar
  47. Oakes, J. M., & Johnson, P. J. (2006). Propensity score matching for social epidemiology. In J. M. Oakes & J. S. Kaufman (Eds.), Methods in social epidemiology (pp. 364–386). San Francisco: Jossey-Bass.Google Scholar
  48. Patterson, G. R., DeBaryshe, B. D., & Ramsey, E. (1989). A developmental perspective of antisocial behavior. American Psychologist, 44, 329–333.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  49. Patterson, G. R., Reid, J. B., & Dishion, T. J. (1992). Antisocial boys. Eugene, OR: Castalia.Google Scholar
  50. Pettit, G. S., Bates, J. E., & Dodge, K. A. (1997). Supportive parenting, ecological context, and children’s adjustment. Child Development, 68, 908–923.Google Scholar
  51. Reynolds, C. R., & Kamphaus, R. W. (1992). BASC: Behavioral assessment system for children: Manual. Circle Pines, MN: American Guidance Service.Google Scholar
  52. Shaffer, D., Fisher, P., Lucas, C. P., Dulcan, M. K., & Schwab-Stone, M. E. (2000). NIMH Diagnostic Interview Schedule for Children Version IV (NIMH DISC-IV): Description, differences from previous versions and reliability of some common diagnoses. Journal of the American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry, 39, 28–38.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  53. Shelton, K. K., Frick, P. J., & Wooten, J (1996). Assessment of parenting practices in families of elementary school-aged children. Journal of Clinical Child Psychology, 25, 317–329.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  54. Shumow, L., Vandell, D. L., & Posner, J. (1999). Risk and resilience in the urban neighborhood: Predictors of academic performance among low income elementary school children. Merrill-Palmer Quarterly, 45, 309–331.Google Scholar
  55. Snyder, J. J., & Patterson, G. R. (1995). Individual differences in social aggression: A test of a reinforcement model of socialization in the natural environment. Behavioral Therapy, 26, 371–391.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  56. Sobel, M. E. (1982). Asymptotic confidence intervals for indirect effects in structural equation models. In Leinhardt, S. (ed.), Sociological methodology (pp. 159–186). Washington, DC: American Sociological Association.Google Scholar
  57. Tarter, R., & Vanyukov, M. (1994). Alcoholism: A developmental disorder. Journal of Consulting and Clinical Psychology, 62, 1096–1107.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  58. Taylor, T. K., & Biglan, A. (1998). Behavioral family interventions for improving child-rearing: A review of literature for clinicians and policy makers. Clinical Child and Family Psychology Review, 1, 41–60.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  59. Tolan, P. H., Gorman-Smith, D., Huesmann, L. R., & Zelli, A. (1997). Assessment of family relationship characteristics: A measure to explain risk for antisocial behavior and depression among urban youth. Psychological Assessment, 9, 212–223.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  60. Vitaro, F., Brendgen, M. & Tremblay, R. E. (2001). Preventive intervention: Assessing its effects on the trajectories of delinquency and testing for mediational processes. Applied Developmental Science, 5, 2001–213.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  61. Webster-Stratton, C. (1996). Early intervention with videotape modeling: Programs for families of children with oppositional defiant or conduct disorder. In E. D. Hibbs & P. S. Jensen (Eds.), Psychosocial treatments for child and adolescent disorders: Empirically based strategies for clinical practice (pp. 435–474). Washington, DC: American Psychological Association.Google Scholar
  62. Webster-Stratton, C., & Hammond, M. (1997). Treating children with early-onset conduct problems: A comparison of child and parent training interventions. Journal of Consulting and Clinical Psychology, 65, 93–109.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  63. Webster-Stratton, C., & Taylor, T. (2001). Nipping early risk factors in the bud: Preventing substance abuse, delinquency, and violence in adolescence through interventions targeted at young children (0–8 years). Prevention Science, 2, 165–191.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  64. Weissberg, R. P., Kumpfer, K. L., & Seligman, M. E. P. (2003). Prevention that works for children and youth: An introduction. American Psychologist, 58, 424–432.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  65. Wentzel, K. R., Weinberger, D. A., Ford, Martin, M., & Feldman, S. S. (1990). Academic achievement in preadolescence: The role of motivational, affective, and self regulatory processes. Journal of Applied Developmental Psychology, 11, 179–193.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  66. Werthamer-Larsson, L., Kellam, S. G., & Wheeler, L. (1991). Effect of first-grade classroom environment on child shy behavior, aggressive behavior, and concentration problems. American Journal of Community Psychology, 19, 585–602.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  67. Woodcock, R. W., & Johnson, M. B. (1990). Woodcock-Johnson psychoeducational battery-revised—revised: Tests of achievement. Allen, TX: DML Teaching Resources.Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media, LLC 2007

Authors and Affiliations

  • Debra H. Bernat
    • 1
  • Gerald J. August
    • 2
  • Joel M. Hektner
    • 3
  • Michael L. Bloomquist
    • 2
  1. 1.Department of PediatricsUniversity of MinnesotaMinneapolisUSA
  2. 2.Department of PsychiatryUniversity of MinnesotaMinneapolisUSA
  3. 3.Department of Child Development and Family ScienceNorth Dakota State UniversityFargoUSA

Personalised recommendations