Oxytocin Receptor Gene Variant Interacts with Intervention Delivery Format in Predicting Intervention Outcomes for Youth with Conduct Problems

Andrea L. Glenn, John E. Lochman, Thomas Dishion, Nicole P. Powell, Caroline Boxmeyer, Lixin Qu

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

21 Scopus citations


Coping Power is an evidence-based preventive intervention program for youth with aggressive behavior problems that has traditionally been delivered in small group formats. Because of concerns about iatrogenic effects secondary to aggregation of high risk youth, the current study examined whether genetic risk may moderate intervention outcome when youth were randomly assigned to group versus individual formats of an intervention. The oxytocin receptor gene (OXTR) has been associated with social behavior and may influence susceptibility to social reinforcement in general and deviant peer influence in particular. One variant of OXTR (rs2268493) was examined in 197 fourth-grade African-American children (64% male) who were randomly assigned to Group Coping Power or Individual Coping Power (Lochman et al. 2015). Longitudinal assessments of teacher- and parent-reported behavior were collected through a 1-year follow-up. Growth curve analyses revealed a genotype by delivery format interaction. Youth with the A/A genotype demonstrated reductions in externalizing problems over the course of the intervention regardless of intervention format. In contrast, carriers of the G allele receiving the group-based intervention showed little improvement during the intervention and a worsening of symptoms during the follow-up year, while those receiving the individual format demonstrated reductions in externalizing problems. Given the associations between this OXTR variant and social bonding, carriers of the G allele may be more sensitive to social rewards from deviant peers in the group setting. This study suggests that genetic factors may be useful in predicting which type of intervention will be most effective for a particular individual.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)38-48
Number of pages11
JournalPrevention Science
Issue number1
StatePublished - Jan 1 2018


  • Aggression
  • Conduct problems
  • Deviant peer
  • Oxytocin receptor gene
  • Preventive intervention

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Public Health, Environmental and Occupational Health


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