The Strong African American Families Program: Longitudinal Pathways to Sexual Risk Reduction

Velma Mc Bride Murry, Cady Berkel, Gene H. Brody, Meg Gibbons, Frederick X. Gibbons

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

83 Scopus citations


Purpose: To identify the mechanisms by which intervention-induced increases in adaptive parenting were associated with a reduction in sexual risk behavior among rural African American adolescents across a 29-month period. Methods: African American families (N = 284) with 11-year-old children in nine rural Georgian counties participated in the 7-week Strong African American Families (SAAF) project. Counties were randomly assigned to intervention or control conditions. The program was evaluated via pretest, posttest, and long-term follow-up interview data collected in the families' homes. The current paper tests a hypothetical model of program efficacy, positing that intervention-induced changes in parenting behaviors would enhance in youth self-pride, which in turn would forecast changes in sexual behaviors measured 29 months after pretest. Results: Compared with controls, parents who participated in SAAF reported increased adaptive universal and racially specific parenting. Furthermore, intervention-induced changes in these parenting behaviors were associated indirectly with sexual risk behavior through adolescent self-pride, peer orientation, and sexual intent. Conclusions: Culturally competent programs, developed through empirical and theoretical research within affected communities, can foster adaptive universal and racially specific parenting, which can have a long-term effect on adolescent sexual risk behavior. Effective strategies for designing and implementing culturally competent programs are discussed.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)333-342
Number of pages10
JournalJournal of Adolescent Health
Issue number4
StatePublished - Oct 2007
Externally publishedYes


  • Adolescents
  • African Americans
  • Cultural Competence
  • Parenting
  • Preventive Intervention
  • Program Evaluation
  • Racial Socialization
  • Rural
  • Sexual Risk Behavior

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Pediatrics, Perinatology, and Child Health
  • Public Health, Environmental and Occupational Health
  • Psychiatry and Mental health


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