A culturally diverse sample of formerly homeless youth (ages 6-12) and their families (n∈=∈223) participated in a cluster randomized controlled trial of the Early Risers conduct problems prevention program in a supportive housing setting. Parents provided 4 annual behaviorally-based ratings of executive functioning (EF) and conduct problems, including at baseline, over 2 years of intervention programming, and at a 1-year follow-up assessment. Using intent-to-treat analyses, a multilevel latent growth model revealed that the intervention group demonstrated reduced growth in conduct problems over the 4 assessment points. In order to examine mediation, a multilevel parallel process latent growth model was used to simultaneously model growth in EF and growth in conduct problems along with intervention status as a covariate. A significant mediational process emerged, with participation in the intervention promoting growth in EF, which predicted negative growth in conduct problems. The model was consistent with changes in EF fully mediating intervention-related changes in youth conduct problems over the course of the study. These findings highlight the critical role that EF plays in behavioral change and lends further support to its importance as a target in preventive interventions with populations at risk for conduct problems.
Bibliographical noteFunding Information:
Author Note This research was supported by grants to Gerald J. August from the National Institute of Mental Health (MH074610 and P20 MH085987). The content is solely the responsibility of the authors and does not necessarily represent the official views of the National Institute Of Mental Health or the National Institutes of Health. The authors would like to thank Nicole Morrell, the project manager, for her major contribution to this effort, as well as David DeGarmo for his generous statistical consultation.
- Conduct problems
- Executive functioning
- Preventive intervention