This article reports on two independent research studies that evaluated the main intervention effects on social problem-solving skills and recidivism, along with differential effects that are modulated by anger, anger regulation, and single nucleotide polymorphisms in the COMT gene; they report both studies’ research methodology and outcomes, and compare the effects of both studies.
The effectiveness of a 10-session social problem-solving training (SPST) was evaluated in two independent studies in a juvenile justice (JJ) setting. In both studies, the authors aimed to examine main intervention effects on social problem-solving skills and recidivism, as well as differential effects as modulated by anger, anger regulation, and single nucleotide polymorphisms in the COMT gene. In the first study, a randomized controlled trial (RCT) included 289 male detainees who were randomly assigned to SPST or treatment-as-usual (TAU). In the second study, a pre-post community implementation, 187 youth on probation were assessed before and after SPST. No significant main effects of SPST on social problem solving or recidivism were shown in either study. With regard to differential effects, among youth in detention, COMT haplotypes predicted intervention effects on state anger. Moreover, independent of SPST, inward anger expression was associated with an increase in state anger from pre- to post and an increase in state anger with a decrease in social problem solving. Among youth on probation, COMT haplotypes predicted social problem-solving skills, and, in turn, an increase in social problem-solving skills decreased the odds of recidivism after SPST. The lack of main effects of SPST may be due to low program integrity in JJ settings. The authors suggest that juveniles' emotional and genetic characteristics might modulate the effectiveness of interventions in JJ settings; and they recommend studying large samples to substantiate this observation. Publisher Abstract Provided
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