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Does a Booster Intervention Augment the Preventive Effects of an Abbreviated Version of the Coping Power Program for Aggressive Children?

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Abstract

Booster interventions have been presumed to be important methods for maintaining the effects of evidence-based programs for children with behavioral problems, but there has been remarkably little empirical attention to this assumption. The present study examines the effect of a child-oriented booster preventive intervention with children who had previously received an abbreviated version (24 child sessions, 10 parent sessions) of the Coping Power targeted prevention program. Two hundred and forty-one children (152 boys, 89 girls) were screened as having moderate to high levels of aggressive behavior in 4th grade, then half were randomly assigned to receive the abbreviated Coping Power program in 5th grade, and half of the preventive intervention children were then randomly assigned to a Booster condition in 6th grade. The Booster sessions consisted of brief monthly individual contacts, and were primarily with the children. Five assessments across 4 years were collected from teachers, providing a three-year follow-up for all children who participated in the project. Results indicated that the abbreviated Coping Power program (one-third shorter than the full intervention) had long-term effects in reducing children’s externalizing problem behaviors, proactive and reactive aggression, impulsivity traits and callous-unemotional traits. The Booster intervention did not augment these prevention effects. These findings indicate that a briefer and more readily disseminated form of an evidence-based targeted preventive intervention was effective. The findings have potential implications for policy and guidelines about possible intervention length and booster interventions.

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Notes

  1. To determine whether ethnicity effects might be determined by family socioeconomic status (SES; the Hollingshead Index), the relationship between SES and ethnicity was tested and found to be nonsignificant, t(239) = 1.37. To further explore whether ethnicity effects in the analyses were due to SES, the following models were re-calculated using SES instead of ethnicity, and the results were identical. As a result, we only include the ethnicity results.

  2. The Screener Score is a continuous measure, representing the 30 % most aggressive children in their classrooms; a categorical Screen Score was created by using a median split of the samples’ Screen scores, and was created to illustrate interaction effects if they emerged. Because Screener Level could have been examined as either a dichotomous or a continuous variable, the analyses were recalculated with Screener Level as a continuous variable. The results were essentially the same when Screener Level as a continuous variable. All significant main and interaction effects remained significant, except the race-by-BCP interaction effect on the APSD Impulsivity outcome became a trend; no additional significant findings emerged. Because of the nearly identical results, only the results with Screener Level as a continuous variable are reported in the following section.

  3. Effect sizes were computed for the significant effects found in tests of Hypotheses 1 and 2. Within each of the six HLM analyses, effect sizes for changes in growth rates between conditions (CP vs control) were calculated as \( d = {\beta \left/ {{{{{\left( \tau \right)}}^{1/2 }}}} \right.} \) (Raudenbush and Xiao-Feng 2001). Effect sizes for the Coping Power intervention effects were within a moderate range (Cohen 1988), and were 0.68 for Externalizing Behavior, 0.74 for Proactive Aggression. 0.64 for Reactive Aggression, 0.84 for Impulsivity, and 0.41 for Callous-Unemotional Traits.

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Correspondence to John E. Lochman.

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The completion of this study was supported by a grant from the Centers for Disease Prevention and Control (R49/CCR418569), along with support from National Institute on Drug Abuse (R01 DA023156).

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Lochman, J.E., Baden, R.E., Boxmeyer, C.L. et al. Does a Booster Intervention Augment the Preventive Effects of an Abbreviated Version of the Coping Power Program for Aggressive Children?. J Abnorm Child Psychol 42, 367–381 (2014). https://doi.org/10.1007/s10802-013-9727-y

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