Skip to main content
Log in

Indirect Effects of the Fast Track Intervention on Conduct Disorder Symptoms and Callous-Unemotional Traits: Distinct Pathways Involving Discipline and Warmth

  • Published:
Journal of Abnormal Child Psychology Aims and scope Submit manuscript

Abstract

Little is known about intervening processes that explain how prevention programs improve particular youth antisocial outcomes. We examined whether parental harsh discipline and warmth in childhood differentially account for Fast Track intervention effects on conduct disorder (CD) symptoms and callous-unemotional (CU) traits in early adolescence. Participants included 891 high-risk kindergarteners (69 % male; 51 % African American) from urban and rural United States communities who were randomized into either the Fast Track intervention (n = 445) or non-intervention control (n = 446) groups. The 10-year intervention included parent management training and other services (e.g., social skills training, universal classroom curriculum) targeting various risk factors for the development of conduct problems. Harsh discipline (Grades 1 to 3) and warmth (Grades 1 and 2) were measured using parent responses to vignettes and direct observations of parent–child interaction, respectively. Parents reported on children’s CD symptoms in Grade 6 and CU traits in Grade 7. Results demonstrated indirect effects of the Fast Track intervention on reducing risk for youth antisocial outcomes. That is, Fast Track was associated with lower scores on harsh discipline, which in turn predicted decreased levels of CD symptoms. In addition, Fast Track was associated with higher scores on warmth, which in turn predicted reduced levels of CU traits. Our findings inform developmental and intervention models of youth antisocial behavior by providing evidence for the differential role of harsh discipline and warmth in accounting for indirect effects of Fast Track on CD symptoms versus CU traits, respectively.

This is a preview of subscription content, log in via an institution to check access.

Access this article

Subscribe and save

Springer+ Basic
EUR 32.99 /Month
  • Get 10 units per month
  • Download Article/Chapter or Ebook
  • 1 Unit = 1 Article or 1 Chapter
  • Cancel anytime
Subscribe now

Buy Now

Price excludes VAT (USA)
Tax calculation will be finalised during checkout.

Instant access to the full article PDF.

Fig. 1
Fig. 2

Similar content being viewed by others

References

  • Achenbach, T. M. (1991). Manual for the Child Behavior Checklist and 1991 Profile. Burlington: University of Vermont, Department of Psychiatry.

  • Barker, E. D., Oliver, B. R., Viding, E., Salekin, R. T., & Maughan, B. (2011). The impact of prenatal maternal risk, fearless temperament and early parenting on adolescent callous-unemotional traits: a 14-year longitudinal investigation. Journal of Child Psychology and Psychiatry, 52, 878–888.

    Article  PubMed  Google Scholar 

  • Baron, R. M., & Kenny, D. A. (1986). The moderator–mediator variable distinction in social psychological research: conceptual, strategic, and statistical considerations. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 51, 1173–1182.

    Article  PubMed  Google Scholar 

  • Bierman, K. L., Greenberg, M. T., & the Conduct Problems Prevention Research Group. (1996). Social skills training in the Fast Track Program. In R. D. Peters & R. J. McMahon (Eds.), Preventing childhood disorders, substance abuse, and delinquency (pp. 65–89). Thousand Oaks: CA Sage.

    Chapter  Google Scholar 

  • Cohen, J. (1988). Statistical power analysis for the behavioral sciences (2nd ed.). Hillsdale, NJ: Erlbaum.

  • 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.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Conduct Problems Prevention Research Group. (1999). Initial impact of the Fast Track prevention trial for conduct problems: I. The high-risk sample. Journal of Consulting and Clinical Psychology, 67, 631–647.

    Article  PubMed Central  Google Scholar 

  • Conduct Problems Prevention Research Group. (2002a). Evaluation of the first 3 years of the Fast Track prevention trial with children at high risk for adolescent conduct problems. Journal of Abnormal Child Psychology, 30, 19–35.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • 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.

    Article  PubMed Central  Google Scholar 

  • Conduct Problems Prevention Research Group. (2010). The difficulty of maintaining positive intervention effects: a look at disruptive behavior, deviant peer relations, and social skills during the middle school years. The Journal of Early Adolescence, 30, 593–624.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Conduct Problems Prevention Research Group. (2011). The effects of the Fast Track preventive intervention on the development of conduct disorder across childhood. Child Development, 82, 331–345.

    Article  PubMed Central  Google Scholar 

  • Crnic, K. A., & Greenberg, M. T. (1990). Minor parenting stresses with young children. Child Development, 61, 1628–1637.

    Article  PubMed  Google Scholar 

  • Davison, A. C., & Hinkley, D. V. (1997). Bootstrap methods and their application (Vol. 1). New York: Cambridge University Press.

    Book  Google Scholar 

  • Dishion, T. J., Shaw, D., Connell, A., Gardner, F., Weaver, C., & Wilson, M. (2008). The Family Check‐Up with high‐risk indigent families: preventing problem behavior by increasing parents’ positive behavior support in early childhood. Child Development, 79, 1395–1414.

    Article  PubMed  PubMed Central  Google Scholar 

  • Dodge, K. A., Bates, J. E., & Pettit, G. S. (1990). Mechanisms in the cycle of violence. Science, 250, 1678–1683.

    Article  PubMed  Google Scholar 

  • Dodge, K. A., Pettit, G. S., & Bates, J. E. (1994). Socialization mediators of the relation between socioeconomic status and child conduct problems. Child Development, 65, 649–665.

    Article  PubMed  Google Scholar 

  • Dodge, K. A., Greenberg, M. T., Malone, P. S., & the Conduct Problems Prevention Research Group. (2008). Testing an idealized dynamic cascade model of the development of serious violence in adolescence. Child Development, 79, 1907–1927.

    Article  PubMed  PubMed Central  Google Scholar 

  • Dodge, K. A., Godwin, J., & the Conduct Problems Prevention Research Group. (2013). Social-information-processing patterns mediate the impact of preventive intervention on adolescent antisocial behavior. Psychological Science, 24, 456–465.

    Article  PubMed  PubMed Central  Google Scholar 

  • Dodge, K. A., Bierman, K. L., Coie, J. D., Greenberg, M. T., Lochman, J. E., McMahon, R. J., et al. (2015). Impact of early intervention on psychopathology, crime, and well-being at age 25. American Journal of Psychiatry, 172, 59–70.

    Article  PubMed  Google Scholar 

  • Fairchild, A., & MacKinnon, D. (2014). Using mediation and moderation analyses to enhance prevention research. In Z. Sloboda & H. Petras (Eds.), Defining prevention science (pp. 537–555). New York: Springer.

    Chapter  Google Scholar 

  • Forehand, R., Lafko, N., Parent, J., & Burt, K. B. (2014). Is parenting the mediator of change in behavioral parent training for externalizing problems of youth? Clinical Psychology Review, 34, 608–619.

    Article  PubMed  PubMed Central  Google Scholar 

  • Foster, E. M., Jones, D., & the Conduct Problems Prevention Research Group. (2006). Can a costly intervention be cost-effective? Archives of General Psychiatry, 63, 1284–1291.

    Article  PubMed  PubMed Central  Google Scholar 

  • Frick, P. J., & Hare, R. D. (2001). The antisocial process screening device (APSD). Toronto, ON: Multi-Health Systems.

  • Frick, P. J., Bodin, S. D., & Barry, C. T. (2000). Psychopathic traits and conduct problems in community and clinic-referred samples of children: further development of the Psychopathy Screening Device. Psychological Assessment, 12, 382–393.

    Article  PubMed  Google Scholar 

  • Frick, P. J., Ray, J. V., Thornton, L. C., & Kahn, R. E. (2014). Can callous-unemotional traits enhance the understanding, diagnosis, and treatment of serious conduct problems in children and adolescents? A comprehensive review. Psychological Bulletin, 140, 1–57.

    Article  PubMed  Google Scholar 

  • Hanisch, C., Hautmann, C., Plück, J., Eichelberger, I., & Döpfner, M. (2014). The prevention program for externalizing problem behavior (PEP) improves child behavior by reducing negative parenting: analysis of mediating processes in a randomized controlled trial. Journal of Child Psychology and Psychiatry, 55, 473–484.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Hawes, D. J., Price, M. J., & Dadds, M. R. (2014). Callous-unemotional traits and the treatment of conduct problems in childhood and adolescence: a comprehensive review. Clinical Child and Family Psychology Review, 17, 248–267.

    Article  PubMed  Google Scholar 

  • Hayes, A. F. (2009). Beyond Baron and Kenny: statistical mediation analysis in the new millennium. Communication Monographs, 76, 408–420.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Hipwell, A., Keenan, K., Kasza, K., Loeber, R., Stouthamer-Loeber, M., & Bean, T. (2008). Reciprocal influences between girls’ conduct problems and depression, and parental punishment and warmth: a six year prospective analysis. Journal of Abnormal Child Psychology, 36, 663–677.

    Article  PubMed  PubMed Central  Google Scholar 

  • Hu, L., & Bentler, P. M. (1999). Cutoff criteria for fit indexes in covariance structure analysis: conventional criteria versus new alternatives. Structural Equation Modeling, 6, 1–55.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Kimonis, E. R., Cross, B., Howard, A., & Donoghue, K. (2013). Maternal care, maltreatment and callous-unemotional traits among urban male juvenile offenders. Journal of Youth and Adolescence, 42, 165–177.

    Article  PubMed  Google Scholar 

  • Kochanska, G. (2002). Mutually responsive orientation between mothers and their young children: a context for the early development of conscience. Current Directions in Psychological Science, 11, 191–195.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Kochanska, G., Kim, S., Boldt, L. J., & Yoon, J. E. (2013). Children’s callous-unemotional traits moderate links between their positive relationships with parents at preschool age and externalizing behavior problems at early school age. Journal of Child Psychology and Psychiatry, 54, 1251–1260.

    Article  PubMed  PubMed Central  Google Scholar 

  • Kroneman, L. M., Hipwell, A. E., Loeber, R., Koot, H. M., & Pardini, D. A. (2011). Contextual risk factors as predictors of disruptive behavior disorder trajectories in girls: the moderating effect of callous-unemotional features. Journal of Child Psychology and Psychiatry, 52, 167–175.

    Article  PubMed  PubMed Central  Google Scholar 

  • Kusche, C. A., & Greenberg, M. T. (1994). The PATHS curriculum. Seattle, WA: Developmental Research and Programs.

  • Lochman, J. E., & the Conduct Problems Prevention Research Group. (1995). Screening of child behavior problems for prevention programs at school entry. Journal of Consulting and Clinical Psychology, 63, 549–559.

    Article  PubMed  Google Scholar 

  • MacDonald, K. (1992). Warmth as a developmental construct: an evolutionary analysis. Child Development, 63, 753–773.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • MacKinnon, D. P., Lockwood, C. M., Hoffman, J. M., West, S. G., & Sheets, V. (2002). A comparison of methods to test mediation and other intervening variable effects. Psychological Methods, 7, 83–104.

    Article  PubMed  PubMed Central  Google Scholar 

  • Matjasko, J. L., Vivolo-Kantor, A. M., Massetti, G. M., Holland, K. M., Holt, M. K., & Dela Cruz, J. (2012). A systematic meta-review of evaluations of youth violence prevention programs: common and divergent findings from 25 years of meta-analyses and systematic reviews. Aggression and Violent Behavior, 17, 540–552.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • McArdle, J. J., & Epstein, D. (1987). Latent growth curves within developmental structural equation models. Child Development, 58, 110–133.

    Article  PubMed  Google Scholar 

  • McDonald, R., Dodson, M. C., Rosenfield, D., & Jouriles, E. N. (2011). Effects of a parenting intervention on features of psychopathy in children. Journal of Abnormal Child Psychology, 39, 1013–1023.

    Article  PubMed  Google Scholar 

  • McMahon, R. J., & Estes, A. (1994). Fast Track Parent-Child Interaction Task: Observational data collection manuals. Seattle: University of Washington. Unpublished manuscript.

  • McMahon, R. J., & Pasalich, D. S. (2015). Family-based interventions for young children with conduct problems as a means of delinquency prevention. In W. M. Craig, D. J. Pepler, & J. Cummings (Eds.), Creating healthy relationships to prevent bullying: Get the tools to take action (Vol. V). Ottawa, ON: National Printers.

  • McMahon, R. J., Slough, N. M., & the Conduct Problems Prevention Research Group. (1996). Family-based intervention in the Fast Track Program. In R. D. Peters & R. J. McMahon (Eds.), Preventing childhood disorders, substance abuse, and delinquency (pp. 90–110). Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage.

  • Muthén, B., & Muthén, L. (2010). Mplus user’s guide (6th ed.). Los Angeles: Muthén & Muthén.

    Google Scholar 

  • Pardini, D., Lochman, J. E., & Powell, N. (2007). The development of callous-unemotional traits and antisocial behavior in children: are there shared and/or unique predictors? Journal of Clinical Child and Adolescent Psychology, 36, 319–333.

    Article  PubMed  Google Scholar 

  • Pasalich, D. S., Dadds, M. R., Hawes, D. J., & Brennan, J. (2011). Do callous‐unemotional traits moderate the relative importance of parental coercion versus warmth in child conduct problems? An observational study. Journal of Child Psychology and Psychiatry, 52, 1308–1315.

    Article  PubMed  Google Scholar 

  • Pasalich, D. S., Waschbusch, D. A., Dadds, M. R., & Hawes, D. J. (2014). Emotion socialization style in parents of children with callous–unemotional traits. Child Psychiatry & Human Development, 45, 229–242.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Patterson, G. R., Reid, J. B., & Dishion, T. J. (1992). Antisocial boys. Eugene, OR: Castalia.

  • Preacher, K. J., & Kelley, K. (2011). Effect size measures for mediation models: quantitative strategies for communicating indirect effects. Psychological Methods, 16, 93–115.

    Article  PubMed  Google Scholar 

  • Sandler, I. N., Schoenfelder, E. N., Wolchik, S. A., & MacKinnon, D. P. (2011). Long-term impact of prevention programs to promote effective parenting: lasting effects but uncertain processes. Annual Review of Psychology, 62, 299–329.

    Article  PubMed  PubMed Central  Google Scholar 

  • Shaffer, D., Fisher, P., Dulcan, M. K., Davies, M., Piacentini, J., Schwab-Stone, M. E., et al. (1996). The NIMH Diagnostic Interview Schedule for Children Version 2.3 (DISC-2.3): description, acceptability, prevalence rates, and performance in the MECA Study. Journal of the American Academy of Child & Adolescent Psychiatry, 35, 865–877.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Shrout, P. E., & Bolger, N. (2002). Mediation in experimental and nonexperimental studies: new procedures and recommendations. Psychological Methods, 7, 422–445.

    Article  PubMed  Google Scholar 

  • Slough, N. M., McMahon, R. J., & the Conduct Problems Prevention Research Group. (2008). Preventing serious conduct problems in school-age youth: The Fast Track program. Cognitive and Behavioral Practice, 15, 3–17.

    Article  PubMed  PubMed Central  Google Scholar 

  • Stormshak, E. A., Bierman, K. L., McMahon, R. J., Lengua, L. J., & Conduct Problems Prevention Research Group. (2000). Parenting practices and child disruptive behavior problems in early elementary school. Journal of Clinical Child Psychology, 29, 17–29.

    Article  PubMed  PubMed Central  Google Scholar 

  • Viding, E., & McCrory, E. J. (2012). Why should we care about measuring callous-unemotional traits in children? British Journal of Psychiatry, 200, 177–178.

    Article  PubMed  Google Scholar 

  • Waller, R., Gardner, F., Hyde, L. W., Shaw, D. S., Dishion, T. J., & Wilson, M. N. (2012). Do harsh and positive parenting predict parent reports of deceitful-callous behavior in early childhood? Journal of Child Psychology and Psychiatry, 53, 946–953.

    Article  PubMed  PubMed Central  Google Scholar 

  • Waller, R., Gardner, F., & Hyde, L. W. (2013). What are the associations between parenting, callous-unemotional traits, and antisocial behavior in youth? A systematic review of evidence. Clinical Psychology Review, 33, 593–608.

    Article  PubMed  Google Scholar 

  • Waller, R., Gardner, F., Shaw, D. S., Dishion, T. J., Wilson, M. N., & Hyde, L. W. (2015a). Callous-unemotional behavior and early-childhood onset of behavior problems: the role of parental harshness and warmth. Journal of Clinical Child and Adolescent Psychology, 44, 655–667.

    Article  PubMed  Google Scholar 

  • Waller, R., Shaw, D. S., Forbes, E. E., & Hyde, L. W. (2015b). Understanding early contextual and parental risk factors for the development of limited prosocial emotions. Journal of Abnormal Child Psychology, 43, 1025–1039.

    Article  PubMed  Google Scholar 

  • Wilson, S. J., & Lipsey, M. W. (2007). School-based interventions for aggressive and disruptive behavior: update of a meta-analysis. American Journal of Preventive Medicine, 33, S130–S143.

    Article  PubMed  PubMed Central  Google Scholar 

Download references

Acknowledgments

Members of the Conduct Problems Prevention Research Group, in alphabetical order, are Karen L. Bierman, Department of Psychology, Pennsylvania State University; John D. Coie, Department of Psychology and Neuroscience, Duke University; Kenneth A. Dodge, Center for Child and Family Policy, Duke University; Mark T. Greenberg, Department of Human Development and Family Studies, Pennsylvania State University; John E. Lochman, Department of Psychology, University of Alabama; Robert J. McMahon, Department of Psychology, Simon Fraser University and the Child & Family Research Institute; and Ellen E. Pinderhughes, Eliot-Pearson Department of Child Study and Human Development, Tufts University.

This work was supported by National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH) Grants R18 MH48043, R18 MH50951, R18 MH50952, R18 MH50953, K05MH00797, and K05MH01027; National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA) Grants DA016903, K05DA15226, and P30DA023026; and Department of Education Grant S184U30002. The Center for Substance Abuse Prevention also provided support through a memorandum of agreement with the NIMH. Additional support for this study was provided by a Michael Smith Foundation for Health Research Postdoctoral Fellowship to Dave S. Pasalich, and a Child & Family Research Institute Investigator Establishment Award and a Canada Foundation for Innovation award to Robert J. McMahon.

We are grateful for the collaboration of the Durham Public Schools, the Metropolitan Nashville Public Schools, the Bellefonte Area Schools, the Tyrone Area Schools, the Mifflin County Schools, the Highline Public Schools, and the Seattle Public Schools. We appreciate the hard work and dedication of the many staff members who implemented the project, collected the evaluation data, and assisted with data management and analyses.

Conflict of Interest

Drs. Bierman, Coie, Dodge, Greenberg, Lochman, McMahon, and Pinderhughes are the Principal Investigators on the Fast Track Project and have a publishing agreement with Guilford Publications, Inc. Royalties from that agreement will be donated to a professional organization. They are also authors of the PATHS curriculum and donate all royalties from Channing-Bete, Inc. to a professional organization. Dr. Greenberg is a developer of the PATHS curriculum and has a separate royalty agreement with Channing-Bete, Inc. Bierman, Coie, Dodge,Greenberg, Lochman, and McMahon are the developers of the Fast Track curriculum and have publishing and royalty agreements with Guilford Publications, Inc. Dr. McMahon is a coauthor of Helping the Noncompliant Child and has a royalty agreement with Guilford Publications, Inc.

Author information

Authors and Affiliations

Authors

Consortia

Corresponding author

Correspondence to Dave S. Pasalich.

Rights and permissions

Reprints and permissions

About this article

Check for updates. Verify currency and authenticity via CrossMark

Cite this article

Pasalich, D.S., Witkiewitz, K., McMahon, R.J. et al. Indirect Effects of the Fast Track Intervention on Conduct Disorder Symptoms and Callous-Unemotional Traits: Distinct Pathways Involving Discipline and Warmth. J Abnorm Child Psychol 44, 587–597 (2016). https://doi.org/10.1007/s10802-015-0059-y

Download citation

  • Published:

  • Issue Date:

  • DOI: https://doi.org/10.1007/s10802-015-0059-y

Keywords

Navigation