This study examined the 4-year outcomes of an evidence-based treatment (Multisystemic Therapy) of substance-abusing juvenile offenders.
Even though several family-based treatments have produced promising short-term results, the effects have not extended beyond 12-month follow-up assessments. This study examined the 4-year outcomes of an evidence-based treatment, Multisystemic Therapy (MST). Eighty of the 118 substance-abusing juvenile offenders who had participated in a randomized clinical trial comparing MST with usual community services in the mid-1990's participated in this 4-year follow-up study. The assessment battery used multiple measures and methods to examine long-term outcomes for MST regarding criminal behavior, substance use, and psychiatric symptoms. MST was associated with significant long-term reductions in aggressive criminal behavior. Findings regarding long-term reductions in illicit drug use were mixed. Treatment effects for psychiatric symptoms were not observed. In summary, the study presented some evidence that scientifically based family-oriented treatment could produce favorable long-term reductions in the antisocial behavior of substance-abusing juvenile offenders. Findings support the use of evidence-based, family-oriented treatment for substance-abusing youths. A significant study limitation was that only 68 percent of the original sample was assessed at the 4-year follow-up. References