Randomized trial of parent training to prevent adolescent problem behaviors during the high school transition.


This randomized controlled trial tested a widely used general parent training program, Common Sense Parenting (CSP), with low-income 8th graders and their families to support a positive transition to high school. The program was tested in its original 6-session format and in a modified format (CSP-Plus), which added 2 sessions that included adolescents. Over 2 annual cohorts, 321 families were enrolled and randomly assigned to either the CSP, CSP-Plus, or minimal-contact control condition. Pretest, posttest, 1-year follow-up, and 2-year follow-up survey data on parenting as well as youth school bonding, social skills, and problem behaviors were collected from parents and youth (94% retention). Extending prior examinations of posttest outcomes, intent-to-treat regression analyses tested for intervention effects at the 2 follow-up assessments, and growth curve analyses examined experimental condition differences in yearly change across time. Separate exploratory tests of moderation by youth gender, youth conduct problems, and family economic hardship also were conducted. Out of 52 regression models predicting 1- and 2-year follow-up outcomes, only 2 out of 104 possible intervention effects were statistically significant. No statistically significant intervention effects were found in the growth curve analyses. Tests of moderation also showed few statistically significant effects. Because CSP already is in widespread use, findings have direct implications for practice. Specifically, findings suggest that the program may not be efficacious with parents of adolescents in a selective prevention context and may reveal the limits of brief, general parent training for achieving outcomes with parents of adolescents.