Many interventions seeking to reduce problem behaviors and promote healthy youth development target both risk and protective factors, yet few studies have examined the effect of preventive interventions on overall levels of protection community wide. In a community-randomized controlled trial, this study tested the effect of Communities That Care (CTC) on protective factors in 24 communities across seven states. Data on protective factors were collected from a panel of 4407 youths in CTC and control communities followed from grade 5 through grade 8. Hierarchical linear modeling compared mean levels of 15 protective factors derived from the social development model in CTC and control communities in grade 8, adjusted for individual and community characteristics and baseline levels of protective factors in grade 5. Global test statistics were calculated to examine effects on protection overall and by domain. Analyses across all protective factors found significantly higher levels of overall protection in CTC compared to control communities. Analyses by domain found significantly higher levels of protection in CTC than control communities in the community, school, and peer/individual domains, but not in the family domain. Significantly higher levels of opportunities for prosocial involvement in the community, recognition for prosocial involvement in school, interaction with prosocial peers, and social skills among CTC compared to control youth contributed to the overall and domain-specific results. This is consistent with CTC’s theory of change, which posits that strengthening protective factors is a mechanism through which CTC prevents behavior problems.
Bibliographical noteFunding Information:
This work was supported by a research grant from the National Institute on Drug Abuse (R01 DA015183), with co-funding from the National Cancer Institute, the National Institute of Child Health and Human Development, the National Institute of Mental Health, the Center for Substance Abuse Prevention, and the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism. The funding organizations had no role in the design and conduct of the study; collection, analysis, or preparation of data; or preparation, review, or approval of the manuscript. The content of this paper is solely the responsibility of the authors and does not necessarily represent the official views of the funding agencies.
© 2014, Society for Prevention Research.
- Communities That Care
- Community intervention
- Protective factors
- Social development model
- Social development strategy