Youth problem behaviors 8 years after implementing the communities that care prevention system a community-randomized trial

J. David Hawkins, Sabrina Oesterle, Eric C. Brown, Robert D. Abbott, Richard F. Catalano

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

115 Scopus citations


IMPORTANCE Community-based efforts to prevent adolescent problem behaviors are essential to promote public health and achieve collective impact community wide. OBJECTIVE To test whether the Communities That Care (CTC) prevention system reduced levels of risk and adolescent problem behaviors community wide 8 years after implementation of CTC. DESIGN, SETTING, AND PARTICIPANTS A community-randomized trialwas performed in 24 small towns in 7 states, matched within state, assigned randomly to a control or intervention group in 2003. All fifth-grade students attending public schools in study communities in 2003-2004 who received consent from their parents to participate (76.4%of the eligible population) were included. A panel of 4407 fifth graders was surveyed through 12th grade, with 92.5%of the sample participating at the last follow-up. INTERVENTIONS A coalition of community stakeholders received training and technical assistance to install CTC, used epidemiologic data to identify elevated risk factors and depressed protective factors for adolescent problem behaviors in the community, and implemented tested and effective programs for youths aged 10 to 14 years as well as their families and schools to address their community's elevated risks. MAIN OUTCOMES AND MEASURES Levels of targeted risk; sustained abstinence, and cumulative incidence by grade 12; and current prevalence of tobacco, alcohol, and other drug use, delinquency, and violence in 12th grade. RESULTS By spring of 12th grade, students in CTC communities were more likely than students in control communities to have abstained from any drug use (adjusted risk ratio [ARR] = 1.32; 95%CI, 1.06-1.63), drinking alcohol (ARR = 1.31; 95%CI, 1.09-1.58), smoking cigarettes (ARR = 1.13; 95%CI, 1.01-1.27), and engaging in delinquency (ARR = 1.18; 95%CI, 1.03-1.36). They were also less likely to ever have committed a violent act (ARR = 0.86; 95% CI, 0.76-0.98). There were no significant differences by intervention group in targeted risks, the prevalence of past-month or past-year substance use, or past-year delinquency or violence. CONCLUSIONS AND RELEVANCE Using the CTC system continued to prevent the initiation of adolescent problem behaviors through 12th grade, 8 years after implementation of CTC and 3 years after study-provided resources ended, but did not produce reductions in current levels of risk or current prevalence of problem behavior in 12th grade.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)122-129
Number of pages8
JournalJAMA Pediatrics
Issue number2
StatePublished - Feb 2014
Externally publishedYes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Pediatrics, Perinatology, and Child Health


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