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Decreasing Substance Use Risk Among African American Youth: Parent-Based Mechanisms of Change

NCJ Number
Prevention Science Volume: 17 Dated: 2016 Pages: 572-83
Date Published
12 pages

The authors report on a research project to determine the impacts of a program for African American families that was aimed at improving the parenting processes and children’s conduct and substance use problems.


African American couples (N = 139; 67.7 % married; with children between the ages of 9 and 14) were randomly assigned to either a culturally sensitive, couple- and parenting-focused program designed to prevent stress-spillover (n = 70), or to an information-only control condition in which couples received self-help materials (n = 69). Eight months after baseline, youth whose parents participated in the program, compared with control youth, reported increased parental monitoring, positive racial socialization, and positive self-concept, as well as decreased conduct problems and self-reported substance use. Changes in youth-reported parenting behavior partially mediated the effect of the intervention on conduct problems and fully mediated its impact on positive self-concept, but did not mediate effects on lifetime substance use initiation. Results suggest the potential for a culturally sensitive family-based intervention targeting adults’ couples and parenting processes to enhance multiple parenting behaviors as well as decrease youths’ substance use onset and vulnerability. Publisher Abstract Provided

Date Published: January 1, 2016