Real Groups: The design and immediate effects of a prevention intervention for Latino children

Flavio Marsiglia, Verónica Peña, Tanya Nieri, Julie L. Nagoshi

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

5 Scopus citations


This article describes the development and immediate effects of a small-group intervention designed to complement a school-based prevention program for children and youth. The REAL Groups intervention is the result of a partnership with predominately Mexican American schools located in the central city neighborhoods of a southwestern U.S. metropolitan area. The group members (N = 115) were fifth graders from six central city schools. Group members were identified and referred by their teachers as in need of additional support beyond the keepin'it REAL classroom-based substance abuse prevention intervention, or they were invited by the referred students. The REAL Groups followed a mutual aid approach, and Masters in Social Work student interns trained in the REAL Groups intervention served as the group facilitators. This article describes the small-group intervention and provides an initial report on the results by comparing the small-group members (n = 115) with Mexican-heritage classmates (n = 306) who only received the classroom-based keepin' it REAL prevention intervention. This is a feasibility study in preparation for the follow-up study with seventh graders. As expected due to the low drug-use rates reported by fifth-grade participants, the effectiveness results were inconclusive. The immediate findings, however, provide important information about the design and evaluation of culturally specific group interventions with acculturating children. The article provides important methodological and practice implications for small-group school-based interventions as well as recommendations for future research.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)103-121
Number of pages19
JournalSocial Work with Groups
Issue number2-3
StatePublished - Apr 2010


  • At risk
  • Children
  • Mutual aid
  • Prevention
  • Small groups
  • Substance use
  • Youth

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Education
  • Social Sciences (miscellaneous)


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