It is difficult for policymakers to interpret and apply large numbers of studies, many of which appear to have contradictory conclusions. Blueprints Advisory Board member Larry Hedges was awarded the Yidan Prize (the world’s largest education prize) in 2018 for his statistical methods for meta-analysis that provide tools to sort through studies and understand program impacts with greater confidence. Listen to a 10-minute interview with Professor Hedges to learn about the methods he has developed for taking a more systematic approach in learning what works:
In May and June 2020, Blueprints self-funded a survey conducted with contacts listed for the 17 Model/Model Plus and 77 Promising Programs on how evidence-based interventions have responded to, and begun to plan for, the aftermath of the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic. The survey contained eight questions and 58 of the 94 programs surveyed responded (for a 62 percent response rate). The full survey and survey responses can be downloaded by going here: Blueprints-Covid-survey-responses_DirectorLtr14
Description: Dr. Karl Hill led a webinar “Why Use Evidence and Where to Find It: Blueprints for Healthy Youth Development,” in which he discusses the importance of employing evidence and prevention science in substance misuse prevention work. Watch the presentation here.
Presenter: Dr. Hill is the director of the Program on Problem Behavior and Positive Youth Development and Professor of Psychology and Neuroscience at the University of Colorado Boulder. The Program includes Blueprints for Healthy Youth Development, the Center for the Study and Prevention of Violence and the Center for Resilience and Well-being in Schools. Dr. Hill’s work over the last 30 years has focused on understanding two questions: What are optimal family, peer, school and community environments that encourage healthy youth and adult development? And: How do we work with communities to make this happen?
Dear Blueprints Colleague and Conference Attendee,
We are writing to inform you that after much consideration and with public health safety as our top priority, we have decided to cancel the 2020 Blueprints Conference due to the Novel Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19). Please know this decision was difficult and was made after thoughtful dialogue with our planning partners. While we have been monitoring this situation for several days, after the governor of Colorado issued a state of emergency yesterday, we knew it was imperative that we make a decision and inform our constituents.
For nearly two years, we have worked diligently with our planning committee and event planning team to create a conference where some 700 professionals within the field of serving and supporting at-risk youth and adults can connect, share ideas and learn from one another. We greatly value our face-to-face time together, however, given the recommendations from government and health officials, we recognize that convening a large group of people in one place is not the right or practical thing to do at this time.
Many of our attendees are residents of some of the areas where the coronavirus is most prevalent, as well as international attendees. With travel bans being instituted and employers asking employees to forego professional travel, we feel it is in the best interest of all attendees to cancel our event during this extraordinary circumstance. We will provide details in the days to come regarding how attendees who are already registered can receive a full refund and what to do for those who reserved a room at the Westin Westminster.
Please know it is our goal to regroup and reimagine the Blueprints Conference in the near future. At this time, we are focused on getting this announcement out to everyone who is already engaged with the 2020 Blueprints Conference to help with adjusting plans as needed. We sincerely apologize for any inconvenience canceling the conference may cause.
This announcement comes with our sincerest thanks for your support of Blueprints for Healthy Youth Development. We wish you and yours healthy days ahead. Thank you for your patience as we provide follow-up details. At this time, our first priority is to let you know that we are canceling the event so you can plan accordingly.
Warm wishes and be well,
Pam Buckley, PhD
Karl Hill, PhD
Blueprints Principal Investigator
A classroom-based drug prevention program designed for at-risk youth that aims to prevent teen drinking, smoking, marijuana, and other hard drug use.
Project Towards No Drug Abuse (TND) is a drug prevention program for high school youth who are at risk for drug use and violence-related behavior. The current version of the Project TND curriculum contains twelve 40-minute interactive sessions taught by teachers or health educators over a 3-week period. Sessions provide instruction in motivation activities to not use drugs; skills in self-control, communication, and resource acquisition; and decision-making strategies. The program is delivered universally and has been used in both traditional and alternative, high-risk high schools.
Classroom management in Project TND involves development of positive norms of classroom behavior. Although interaction among the youth is encouraged, the course is primarily teacher-directed and highly structured. In Project TND, the teacher’s role is to actively develop and maintain peer group support in the class by modeling support, positively reinforcing it among group members, and negatively reinforcing deviant peer bonds and activities. The teacher creates and structures interactions among youth in prosocial directions.
Blueprints has certified four studies evaluating TND, all conducted with high schools located in Southern California.
Study 1, Simon et al. (2002) and Sussman et al. (1998), reported on a cluster randomized control trial in which 21 schools and 1,074 students were randomly assigned to: 1) control group; 2) TND curriculum; or 3) TND curriculum plus school wide activities such as meetings, job training and drug-free party events. Results at one-year follow-up showed that students from schools in either program condition exhibited a reduction in alcohol and hard drug use prevalence rates, relative to students from the control schools.
In Study 2, Dent, Sussman & Stacy (2001) conducted a cluster randomized control trial with 1,208 students (grades 9 to 11) and 26 classrooms in three traditional, regular high schools. One-year follow-up results showed significant reduction for treatment compared to control of prevalence of hard drug use and alcohol use.
In Study 3 (Sussman, Dent, Craig et al., 2002; Sussman, Dent, & Stacy, 2002; Sussman et al., 2003), three sessions were added to the original TND program in order to create a revised TND curriculum. This 12-session version contained the same motivation-skills-decision-making material as the previous trials, with the addition of three new sessions that provided more information about tobacco and marijuana use and violence prevention. A randomized block design was used to assign 1,018 students from 18 continuation high schools to one of three conditions: 1) standard care control condition; 2) a self-instruction version of the 12-session TND curriculum (completed in class); or 3) a 12-session version of the TND curriculum delivered by project staff health educators. Results from the one-year follow-up showed that only the health educator-led condition provided a reduction in problem behavior rates (i.e., hard drug use, alcohol use, weapon carrying, tobacco and marijuana use), relative to each of the other conditions. Similarly, findings at the two-year follow-up showed the health educator-led treatment significantly lowered the probability of 30-day tobacco and hard drug use.
Study 4, Sun et al. (2008), provided results of a cluster randomized control trial that included 18 alternative and regular high schools and gathered data on 2,064 students. Students were randomly assigned to one of three conditions: 1) control; 2) cognitive perception information only curriculum (Cognitive Only); or 3) combined cognitive perception information + TND (Combined). For this study, the program was administered by both project health educators and classroom teachers, in contrast to studies 1-3 in which only project health educators delivered the TND program. One-year follow-up findings showed that frequency of hard drug use was significantly reduced in both treatment conditions relative to the control group.
In terms of cost-benefit analysis, Washington State Institute for Public Policy (December 2019) reports $5.70 in measured benefits per $1 spent in implementing Project Towards No Drug Abuse.
Dent, C., Sussman, S., & Stacy, A. (2001). Project Towards No Drug Abuse: Generalizability to a general high school sample. Preventive Medicine, 32, 514-520.
Simon, T. R., Sussman, S., Dahlberg, L. L., & Dent C. W. (2002). Influence of a substance-abuse-prevention curriculum on violence-related behavior. American Journal of Health Behavior, 25, 103-110.
Sun, P., Sussman, S., Dent, C. W., & Rohrbach, L. A. (2008). One-year follow-up evaluation of Project Towards No Drug Abuse (TND-4). Preventive Medicine, 47, 438-442.
Sussman, S., Dent, C. W., Craig, S., Ritt-Olsen, A., & McCuller, W. J. (2002). Development and immediate impact of a self-instruction curriculum for an adolescent indicated drug abuse prevention trial. Journal of Drug Education, 32(2), 121-137.
Sussman, S., Dent, C., & Stacy, A. (2002). Project Towards No Drug Abuse: A review of the findings and future directions. American Journal of Health Behavior, 26, 354-365.
Sussman, S., Dent, C., Stacy, A., & Craig, S. (1998). One-year outcomes of Project Towards No Drug Abuse. Preventive Medicine, 27, 632-642.
Sussman, S., Sun, P., McCuller, W. J., & Dent, C. W. (2003). Project Towards No Drug Abuse: Two-year outcomes of a trial that compares health educator delivery to self instruction. Preventive Medicine, 37, 155-162.
Read the Program Fact Sheet
A whole-school program that aims to improve the school environment to reduce bullying and aggression and promote student health and wellbeing.
Learning Together is a school-based intervention grounded in schoolwide policies and systems, restorative practices, and social and emotional education with adolescents to reduce bullying and aggression and promote various dimensions of health and wellbeing. The program includes all-school staff trainings, restorative practices delivered by staff and specialized restorative practices for more serious behavior problems, action group meetings comprised of students and staff, and teacher-delivered lessons on social and emotional skills. The program lasts three years, during grades 8-10 in the United Kingdom (or middle school in the United States).
Whole-school interventions are aimed at modifying overall school policies and systems to enhance student engagement; restorative practices aim to prevent or resolve conflicts between students or between school staff and students; and social and emotional education lessons aim to teach students needed skills to regulate their emotions and relationships.
Blueprints has certified one study evaluating this program. Bonell et al. (2018) conducted a clustered experimental design to examine 7,121 students (ages 11-12 years) in 40 secondary schools in Southeast England. Schools were randomly assigned to either the treatment group (school n = 20, student n = 3,605) or control group (school n = 20; student n = 3,516) based on key school-level determinants of violence. The control schools continued their programs as usual, with some having their own anti-bullying programs. The baseline (pre-treatment) assessment occurred in spring 2014, when students neared the end of year 7, with a 24-month follow-up in the spring of year nine, and a 36-month follow-up in spring of year ten.
The sample excluded schools that the UK national education inspectorate rated as poor/inadequate.
The analyses showed significant condition differences at 36 months (conclusion of the intervention) for one of two primary outcomes: bullying victimization but not aggression. Out of the fifteen secondary outcomes, eight were significantly improved by the intervention: overall quality of life, total difficulties, total well-being, ever smoked, ever drank alcohol, time drunk, offered illicit drugs, and contact with police.
To date, the Washington State Institute for Public Policy has not conducted a cost-benefit analysis of Learning Together.
Bonell, C., Allen, E., Warren, E., McGowan, J., Bevilacqua, L., Jamal, F., . . . Viner, R. M. (2018). Effects of the Learning Together intervention on bullying and aggression in English secondary schools (INCLUSIVE): A cluster randomised controlled trial. Lancet, 392(10163), 2452-2464.
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The Overcome Social Anxiety program aims to help college students improve their social anxiety through cognitive behavioral therapy. The program is administered online and targets college students showing high levels of anxiety. Participants complete the program over a period of four to six months and receive email reminders to complete the modules.
The program includes seven modules, focusing on: (1) thinking exercises, (2) challenging thinking patterns, (3) creating models to deal with social anxiety, (4) experimenting behaviorally with situations that invoke social anxiety, (5) further challenging thinking, (6) self-processing, and (7) relapse prevention. Modules are individualized for the user based upon responses to a pre-questionnaire on common social anxiety thoughts and avoidance behaviors. A post-questionnaire collects the same information allowing the user to retain his/her data from before and after the treatment.
Blueprints has certified one study evaluating this program (McCall et al., 2018), in which researchers evaluated the program in 101 participants randomly assigned to intervention (N = 51) or waitlist control (N = 50) conditions. Participants self-reported their anxiety and quality of life at baseline and following the four-month online program. Participants were recruited from a large, public Canadian university through an undergraduate psychology course. Students were offered course credit in exchange for participation. Inclusion criteria were showing subclinical levels of social anxiety as determined by endorsing at least one of seven items on a pre-screening questionnaire, not receiving treatment for a chronic mental health condition in the six months leading up to the study, and not having been formerly diagnosed with social anxiety by a clinician. Results showed that intervention participants showed significantly greater reductions in social anxiety at posttest relative to participants in the control condition.
To date, the Washington State Institute for Public Policy has not conducted a cost-benefit analysis of implementing Overcoming Social Anxiety.
McCall, H. C., Richardson, C. G., Helgadottir, F. D., & Chen, F. S. (2018). Evaluating a web-based social anxiety intervention among university students: Randomized controlled trial. Journal of Medical Internet Research, 20(3).
Read the Program Fact Sheet
Brief Alcohol Screening and Intervention of College Students (BASICS): A Harm Reduction Approach, is a preventive intervention for college students 18 to 24 years old. It targets students who drink alcohol heavily and have experienced or are at risk for alcohol-related problems such as poor class attendance, missed assignments, accidents, sexual assault, and violence. BASICS is designed to help students make better alcohol-use decisions based on a clear understanding of the genuine risks associated with problem drinking. The program is conducted over the course of two brief interviews that prompt students to change their drinking patterns. The first interview focuses on introducing the student to the program, assessing the student’s level of risk of alcohol-related problems, and obtaining the commitment to monitor drinking in the interval between the two sessions. The second interview is a feedback interview in which the student is given a personalized feedback sheet containing information on the frequency of drinking, quantity of alcohol consumed, estimates of typical and highest-reported blood-alcohol content, and comparisons with student drinking norms. In addition, the student is provided with information about risks associated with drinking and myths about alcohol use, and receives advice on how to drink safely. The program’s style is empathetic, not confrontational or judgmental, and aims to (1) reduce alcohol consumption and its adverse consequences, (2) promote healthier choices among young adults, and (3) provide important information and coping skills for risk reduction.
Blueprints has certified three randomized controlled trials evaluating this program: (1) Marlatt et al. (1998) and Baer et al. (2001); (2) Borsari & Carey (2000); and (3) Turrisi et al. (2009).
The initial study done at the University of Washington (Marlatt et al. 1998; Baer et al. 2001) screened high school students intending to attend the university and selected 348 students-to-be who were predicted to be at high risk for drinking problems in college. After random assignment, the treatment group but not the control group underwent the brief intervention during the freshman year. Assessments at baseline, 6 months, 2 years, and 4 years measured both drinking rates and harmful consequences. A separate group of normal students not at high risk was followed for comparison. Over a 2-year follow-up period, all sampled high-risk college drinkers drank less and reported fewer alcohol-related problems. However, participants who received the BASICS intervention demonstrated a significantly greater deceleration of drinking rates, harmful consequences of drinking, and alcohol dependence than participants in the control group. A 4-year follow-up found significantly greater reductions in alcohol use and negative consequences of drinking for the treatment than control group. Although the frequency of drinking remained stable for both groups, the treatment group showed fewer dependence symptoms.
Borsari and Carey (2000) conducted another randomized trial of 60 college binge drinkers selected from an introductory Psychology class and followed for 6 weeks. Results showed that by the 6-week follow-up, the treatment group drank significantly less than the control group on three indices (number of drinks consumed per week, number of times consuming alcohol in the past month, and frequency of binge drinking in the past month).
In a different sample of 1,275 athletes enrolled in a public northeastern and northwestern university, Turrisi et al. (2009) randomly assigned study participants to BASICS, Parent Based Intervention (PBI), BASICS+PBI, or control with assessments conducted at baseline (prior to matriculation) and 10 month after baseline. Posttest findings demonstrated that BASICS significantly lowered the levels of peak blood alcohol concentration as well as the numbers of drinks consumed on a typical weekend during the first year of college.
In terms of cost-benefit analysis, Washington State Institute for Public Policy (December 2018) reports $10.02 in measured benefits per $1 spent in implementing Brief Alcohol Screening and Intervention of College Students (BASICS): A Harm Reduction Approach.
Read the Program Fact Sheet
Baer, J. S., Kivlahan, D. R., Blume, A. W., McKnight, P., & Marlatt, G. A. (2001) Brief intervention for heavy-drinking college students: 4-year follow-up and natural history. American Journal of Public Health, 91, 1310-1316.
Borsari, B., & Carey, K. B. (2000). Effects of a brief motivational intervention with college student drinkers. Journal of Consulting and Clinical Psychology, 68, 728-733.
Marlatt, G. A., Baer, J. S., Kivlahan, D. R., Dimeff, L. A., Larimer, M. E., Quigley, L. A., … Williams, E. (1998). Screening and brief intervention for high-risk college student drinkers: Results from a 2-year follow-up assessment. Journal of Consulting and Clinical Psychology, 66, 604-615.
Turrisi, R., Larimer, M. E., Mallett, K. A., Kilmer, J. R., Ray, A. E., Mastroleo, N. R., … Montoya, H. (2009). A randomized clinical trial evaluating a combined alcohol intervention for high-risk college students. Journal of Studies on Alcohol and Drugs, 70, 555-567.
Parent-Child Interaction Therapy (PCIT) is an intervention for children (ages 2-12 years) and their parents or caregivers that focuses on decreasing externalized child behavior problems (e.g., defiance, aggression), increasing positive parent behaviors, and improving the quality of the parent-child relationship. It teaches parents traditional play-therapy skills to improve parent-child interactions and problem-solving skills to manage new problem behaviors. Parents are taught and practice communication skills and behavior management with their children in a playroom while coached by therapists. Most parenting programs for abusive parents treat parents separately from their children and use an instructive approach, but PCIT treats parents with their children. Skills are behaviorally defined, directly coached, and practiced in parent-child sessions. Parents are shown directly how to implement specific behavioral skills with their children. Therapists observe parent-child interactions through a one-way mirror and coach the parent using a radio earphone. Live coaching and monitoring of skill acquisition are cornerstones of PCIT.
The PCIT intervention is composed of three phases. The first phase consists of orientation sessions focused on increasing parent motivation for active participation. Following the motivational enhancement orientation module, parents begin a course of approximately 12 PCIT sessions that consists of two more phases. In the child-direct interaction phase, parents allow their child to lead the play activity while they describe, imitate, and praise the child’s appropriate behavior and ignore inappropriate behavior. In the parent-directed interaction phase, parents direct children’s activity by using clear, positively stated direct commands and consistent consequences for their children’s behavior (praise or time-outs). The goal is to enhance relationships while improving compliance.
The length of treatment can vary, but the standard treatment consists of 12 one-half hour weekly sessions, with a one-hour booster session one month after treatment ends.
Blueprints certification is based on three studies: (1) Nixon et al. (2003); (2) Matos et al. (2009); and (3) Chaffin et al. (2011). Nixon et al. (2003) conducted an experimental study with preschool-aged children exhibiting behavioral difficulties. Researchers randomly assigned 63 families to three groups: 1) the standard PCIT (n = 22), 2) the abbreviated PCIT (n = 23 families), and 3) a waitlist control group (n = 18 families). Findings showed both a standard 12-session treatment and an abbreviated 5-session treatment similarly reduced posttest measures of behavior problems among preschool children with oppositional defiant disorder. In addition, parents benefitted from the treatment in developing a stronger sense of competence and control in their childrearing.
Matos et al. (2009) conducted a randomized control trial involving 32 families with a child (ages 4-6 years) exhibiting hyperactivity and behavior problems in which families were randomly assigned to treatment (n = 20) or a waitlist control condition (n = 12). Results indicated significantly greater improvement for the treatment group compared to the control group on posttest measures relating to hyperactivity, aggression, disruptive behavior, and positive parental practices.
Chaffin et al. (2011) evaluated PCIT using a randomized control design involving parents referred to the program by a child welfare agency for neglect and/or physical abuse. Randomization occurred in two steps, first for the orientation conditions and then for the therapy conditions. The first randomization assigned 192 parents to either a self-motivation orientation condition or a usual orientation condition. The self-motivation orientation involved meetings without the children and included activities to highlight the benefits of the program; the usual orientation was primarily informational and educational. The second randomization assigned the 153 parents remaining after the orientation to a PCIT condition or a service-as-usual condition. The PCIT condition followed program guidelines to promote positive interaction between both parent and child; the service-as-usual sessions provided information to the parent on child development, reasonable expectations, compassionate parenting, and the value of empathy. The sequential randomization thus defined four conditions: 1) self-motivation orientation and PCIT; 2) usual orientation and PCIT; 3) self-motivation orientation and service-as-usual; and 4) usual orientation and service-as-usual (i.e., control). The design allowed for the analysis to disentangle the benefits of the orientation from the benefits of the therapy.
The PCIT program included six orientation sessions and 12 parenting sessions. Assessments occurred at baseline, after the six-session orientation, and after the 12 sessions of the parenting program. The length of the intervention varied across subjects, making it difficult to pinpoint a specific end, but the median time from baseline to collection of post-treatment data was 247 days. The period of follow-up differed as well, but the median was 2.5 years.
Study outcomes revealed the package of PCIT combined with a self-motivational orientation significantly reduced the incidence of recidivism among a sample of parents referred to child welfare for child abuse.
In terms of cost-benefit analysis, Washington State Institute for Public Policy (December 2018) reports $15.97 in measured benefits per $1 spent in implementing Parent-Child Interaction Therapy (PCIT) for families in the child welfare system, and $0.57 per $1 spent in implementing PCIT for children with disruptive behavior.
Chaffin, M., Funderburk, B., Bard, D., Valle, L. A., & Gurwitch, R. (2011). A combined motivation and Parent-Child Interaction Therapy package reduces child welfare recidivism in a randomized dismantling field trial. Journal of Consulting and Clinical Psychology, 79(1), 84-95.
Matos, M., Bauermeister, J. J., & Bernal, G. (2009). Parent-Child Interaction Therapy for Puerto Rican preschool children with ADHD and behavior problems: A pilot efficacy study. Family Process, 48(2), 232-252.
Nixon, R. D. V., Sweeney, L., Erickson, D. B., & Touyz, S. W. (2003). Parent-Child Interaction Therapy: A comparison of standard and abbreviated treatments for oppositional defiant preschoolers. Journal of Consulting and Clinical Psychology, 71(2), 251-260.