Since there is an urgent need for effective, affordable interventions to prevent child mental health problems in low income and middle-income countries, the current study examined the effects of a universal preschool intervention on child conduct problems and social skills at school and at home.
The overall conclusion of the study is that a low-cost, school-based intervention in a middle-income country substantially reduces child conduct problems and increases child social skills at home and at school. In a cluster randomized design, 24 community preschools in inner-city areas of Kingston, Jamaica, were randomly assigned to receive the Incredible Years Teacher Training intervention (n = 12) or to a control group (n = 12). Three children from each class with the highest levels of teacher-reported conduct problems were selected for evaluation (225 children aged 3-6 years). The primary outcome observed was child behavior at school. The secondary outcome observed by parents and teachers was child attendance at school and parents' attitude toward school. Children in intervention schools showed significantly reduced conduct problems (effect size (ES) = 0.42) and increased friendship skills (ES = 0.74) through observation, significant reductions in teacher-reported (ES = 0.47) and parent-reported (ES = 0.22) behavioral difficulties and increases in teacher-reported social skills (ES = 0.59) and child attendance (ES = 0.30). Benefits to parents' attitude toward school were not significant. 5 tables and 33 references (publisher abstract modified)