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Effects of the Communities That Care Model in Pennsylvania on Change in Adolescent Risk and Problem Behaviors


Despite the public health burden of adolescent substance use, delinquency, and other problem behavior, few comprehensive models of disseminating evidence-based prevention programs to communities have demonstrated positive youth outcomes at a population level, capacity to maintain program fidelity, and sustainability. We examined whether the Communities That Care (CTC; Hawkins and Catalano 1992) model had a positive impact on risk/protective factors and academic and behavioral outcomes among adolescents in a quasi-experimental effectiveness study. We conducted a longitudinal study of CTC in Pennsylvania utilizing biannual surveillance data collected through anonymous in-school student surveys. We utilized multilevel models to examine CTC impact on change in risk/protective factors, grades, delinquency, and substance use over time. Youth in CTC communities demonstrated less growth in delinquency, but not substance use, than youth in non-CTC communities. Levels of risk factors increased more slowly, and protective factors and academic performance decreased more slowly, among CTC community grade-cohorts that were exposed to evidence-based, universal prevention programs than comparison grade cohorts. Community coalitions can affect adolescent risk and protective behaviors at a population level when evidence-based programs are utilized. CTC represents an effective model for disseminating such programs.

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This research is supported by a grant from the Pennsylvania Commission for Crime and Delinquency (PCCD). However, findings and recommendations herein are those of the authors and not official statements of PCCD. We want to acknowledge the enthusiastic support of Michael Pennington, Ruth Williams, Douglas Hoffman, Raymond Moneta, and Clay R. Yeager at PCCD in supporting the vision of this project.

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Correspondence to Mark E. Feinberg.

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Feinberg, M.E., Jones, D., Greenberg, M.T. et al. Effects of the Communities That Care Model in Pennsylvania on Change in Adolescent Risk and Problem Behaviors. Prev Sci 11, 163–171 (2010).

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  • Deliquency
  • Academic performance
  • Prevention