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Implementing Family-Centered Prevention in Rural African American Communities: a Randomized Effectiveness Trial of the Strong African American Families Program

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Efforts to disseminate evidence-based prevention programs are hampered by a lack of real-world effectiveness trials undertaken with community providers. The Strong African American Families (SAAF) program is an empirically validated intervention designed to prevent problem behavior among rural African American youth. To evaluate the effectiveness of SAAF and its implementation protocols when delivered by a community provider, we conducted a randomized, wait-list-controlled trial with outcome measurements assessed longitudinally at baseline and 6 months after baseline. A total of 465 African American youth and their parents were recruited randomly from public school lists of fifth- and sixth-grade students in eight rural counties in south Georgia. Youth and parents assessed targeted outcomes in their homes. The main outcome, problem behavior vulnerability, was operationalized as a latent construct comprising three indicators: tolerance for deviance, intentions to engage in risky behavior, and affiliations with risk-taking peers. SAAF was implemented with uniformly high levels of adherence (85.5 %; SD = 10.8) and attendance (M = 4.1, SD = 2.9, range = 0–7). Intent-to-treat and complier average causal effect analyses revealed significant program effects on intervention-targeted parenting practices, youth self-regulatory processes, and problem behavior vulnerability. SAAF influenced problem behavior vulnerability indirectly via effects on targeted parenting and youth processes. This study supported the effectiveness of SAAF in a community setting when a systematic implementation model supports participant engagement and intervention adherence.

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This research was supported by Award Number R01 AA018580 from the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism. The content is solely the responsibility of the authors and does not necessarily represent the official views of the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism or the National Institutes of Health. We would like to thank Eileen Neubaum-Carlan, MS, for her helpful comments in the preparation of this manuscript.

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Correspondence to Steven M. Kogan.

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Kogan, S.M., Lei, MK., Brody, G.H. et al. Implementing Family-Centered Prevention in Rural African American Communities: a Randomized Effectiveness Trial of the Strong African American Families Program. Prev Sci 17, 248–258 (2016).

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