Assessing findings from the fast track study

Abstract

Objectives

The aim of this paper is to respond to the Commentary, “Reassessing Findings from the Fast Track Study: Problems of Methods and Analysis” provided by E. Michael Foster (Foster, this issue) to our article “Fast Track Intervention Effects on Youth Arrests and Delinquency” (Conduct Problems Prevention Research Group 2010, Journal of Experimental Criminology, 6, 131–157). Our response begins with a description of the mission and goals of the Fast Track project, and how they guided the original design of the study and continue to inform outcome analyses. Then, we respond to the Commentary’s five points in the order they were raised.

Conclusions

We agree with the Commentary that efforts to prevent crime and delinquency are of high public health significance because the costs of crime and delinquency to society are indeed enormous. We believe that rigorous, careful intervention research is needed to accumulate evidence that informs prevention programs and activities. We have appreciated the opportunity to respond to the Commentary and to clarify the procedures and results that we presented in our paper on Fast Track effects on youth arrests and delinquency. Our response has clarified the framework for the number of statistical tests made, has reiterated the randomization process, has supported our tests for site-by-intervention effects, has provided our rationale for assuming missing at random, and has clarified that the incarceration variable was not included as a covariate in the hazard analyses. We stand by our conclusion that random assignment to Fast Track had a positive impact in preventing juvenile arrests, and we echo our additional caveat that it will be essential to determine whether intervention produces any longer-term effects on adult arrests as the sample transitions into young adulthood. We also appreciate the opportunity for open scientific debate on the values and risks associated with multiple analyses in long-term prevention program designs such as Fast Track. We believe that, once collected, completed longitudinal intervention datasets should be fully used to understand the impact, process, strengths, and weaknesses of the intervention approach. We agree with the Commentary that efforts to prevent crime and delinquency are of high public health significance because the costs of crime and delinquency to society are indeed enormous. As a result, we argue that it is important to balance the need to maintain awareness and caution regarding potential risks in the design or approach that may confound interpretation of findings, in the manner raised by the Commentator, with the need for extended analyses of the available data so we can better understand over time how antisocial behavior and violence can be effectively reduced.

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Additional information

Correspondence concerning this article should be addressed to John Lochman, Box 870348, The University of Alabama, Tuscaloosa, AL 35487, phone: 205-348-7678, e-mail: jlochman@ua.edu. For additional information concerning Fast Track, see http://www.fasttrackproject.org

This article is commentary for article “Fast track intervention effects on youth arrests and delinquency”, published in Volume 6, Issue 2, under doi:10.1007/s11292-010-9091-7.

Members of the Conduct Problems Prevention Research Group, in alphabetical order, include 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, The University of Alabama; Robert J. McMahon, Department of Psychology, University of Washington; and Ellen E. Pinderhughes, Department of Child Development, Tufts University.

This work was supported by National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH) grants R18 MH48043, R18 MH50951, R18 MH50952, and R18 MH50953. The Center for Substance Abuse Prevention and the National Institute on Drug Abuse also have provided support for Fast Track through a memorandum of agreement with the NIMH. This work was also supported in part by Department of Education grant S184U30002, NIMH grants K05MH00797 and K05MH01027, and NIDA grants DA16903, DA017589, and DA015226.

We are grateful for the close 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 greatly 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. We particularly express appreciation to Jennifer Godwin for her work on data analyses for this paper.

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Conduct Problems Prevention Research Group. Assessing findings from the fast track study. J Exp Criminol 9, 119–126 (2013). https://doi.org/10.1007/s11292-013-9173-4

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Keywords

  • Prevention
  • Conduct problems
  • Criminal offenses