Impact of the Good Behavior Game, a universal classroom-based behavior intervention, on young adult service use for problems with emotions, behavior, or drugs or alcohol

Drug Alcohol Depend. 2008 Jun 1;95 Suppl 1(Suppl 1):S29-44. doi: 10.1016/j.drugalcdep.2007.10.009. Epub 2008 Feb 4.


Background: The Good Behavior Game (GBG) is a classroom behavior management strategy focused on socializing children to the role of student and aimed at reducing early aggressive, disruptive behavior, a confirmed antecedent to service use. The GBG was tested in a randomized field trial in 19 elementary schools with two cohorts of children as they attended first and second grades. This article reports on the impact of the GBG on service use through young adulthood.

Methods: Three or four schools in each of five urban areas were matched and randomly assigned to one of three conditions: (1) GBG, (2) an intervention aimed at academic achievement, or (3) the standard program of the school system. Children were assigned to classrooms to ensure balance, and teachers and classrooms were randomly assigned to intervention conditions.

Results: This study provides evidence of a positive impact of a universal preventive intervention on later service use by males, although not by females, for problems with emotions, behavior, or drugs or alcohol. For both cohorts, males in GBG classrooms who had been rated as highly aggressive, disruptive by their teachers in the fall of first grade had a lower rate of school-based service use than their counterparts in control classrooms. REPLICATION: The design employed two cohorts of students. Although both first- and second-grade teachers received less training and support with the second cohorts of students than with the first cohort, the impact of GBG was similar across both cohorts.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study
  • Multicenter Study
  • Randomized Controlled Trial
  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural

MeSH terms

  • Achievement
  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Affective Symptoms / epidemiology
  • Affective Symptoms / prevention & control*
  • Aggression / psychology*
  • Alcoholism / epidemiology
  • Alcoholism / prevention & control*
  • Attention Deficit and Disruptive Behavior Disorders / epidemiology
  • Attention Deficit and Disruptive Behavior Disorders / therapy*
  • Baltimore
  • Behavior Therapy / methods*
  • Child
  • Cohort Studies
  • Conduct Disorder / epidemiology
  • Conduct Disorder / prevention & control*
  • Female
  • Follow-Up Studies
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Mental Health Services / statistics & numerical data*
  • Schools*
  • Sex Factors
  • Socialization*
  • Substance-Related Disorders / epidemiology
  • Substance-Related Disorders / prevention & control*
  • Urban Population*
  • Utilization Review / statistics & numerical data