Effects of 2 prevention programs on high-risk behaviors among African American youth: a randomized trial

Arch Pediatr Adolesc Med. 2004 Apr;158(4):377-84. doi: 10.1001/archpedi.158.4.377.


Objective: To test the efficacy of 2 programs designed to reduce high-risk behaviors among inner-city African American youth.

Design: Cluster randomized trial.

Setting: Twelve metropolitan Chicago, Ill, schools and the communities they serve, 1994 through 1998.

Participants: Students in grades 5 through 8 and their parents and teachers.

Interventions: The social development curriculum (SDC) consisted of 16 to 21 lessons per year focusing on social competence skills necessary to manage situations in which high-risk behaviors occur. The school/community intervention (SCI) consisted of SDC and school-wide climate and parent and community components. The control group received an attention-placebo health enhancement curriculum (HEC) of equal intensity to the SDC focusing on nutrition, physical activity, and general health care.

Main outcome measures: Student self-reports of violence, provocative behavior, school delinquency, substance use, and sexual behaviors (intercourse and condom use).

Results: For boys, the SDC and SCI significantly reduced the rate of increase in violent behavior (by 35% and 47% compared with HEC, respectively), provoking behavior (41% and 59%), school delinquency (31% and 66%), drug use (32% and 34%), and recent sexual intercourse (44% and 65%), and improved the rate of increase in condom use (95% and 165%). The SCI was significantly more effective than the SDC for a combined behavioral measure (79% improvement vs 51%). There were no significant effects for girls.

Conclusions: Theoretically derived social-emotional programs that are culturally sensitive, developmentally appropriate, and offered in multiple grades can reduce multiple risk behaviors for inner-city African American boys in grades 5 through 8. The lack of effects for girls deserves further research.

Publication types

  • Clinical Trial
  • Randomized Controlled Trial
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adolescent Behavior / psychology*
  • Agonistic Behavior
  • Black People / psychology*
  • Black People / statistics & numerical data
  • Chicago / epidemiology
  • Child
  • Condoms / statistics & numerical data
  • Curriculum
  • Female
  • Health Behavior*
  • Humans
  • Juvenile Delinquency / prevention & control
  • Juvenile Delinquency / statistics & numerical data
  • Male
  • Program Evaluation*
  • Risk-Taking*
  • Sex Factors
  • Sexual Behavior / statistics & numerical data
  • Social Change
  • Substance-Related Disorders / epidemiology
  • Substance-Related Disorders / prevention & control
  • Urban Population
  • Violence / statistics & numerical data