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The Impact of a Preventive Intervention on Persistent, Cross-Situational Early Onset Externalizing Problems

  • Michael F. LorberEmail author
  • David L. Olds
  • Nancy Donelan-McCall
Article
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Abstract

The Nurse-Family Partnership (NFP) home visiting intervention for low-income first-time mothers was evaluated for its preventive impact on persistent, cross-situational early-onset externalizing problems (EXT). Seven hundred thirty-five women in the Denver, CO, area were randomly assigned into one of two active conditions (nurse or paraprofessional home visiting from pregnancy through child age 2) or a control group in which children were screened and referred for behavioral and developmental problems. Externalizing behavior was assessed by parent report when the children were 2, 4, 6, and 9 years old; teachers provided reports at ages 6 and 9. Latent profile analyses suggested the presence of persistent, cross-situational early onset EXT in approximately 6 to 7% of girls and boys. The intervention deflected girls away from these EXT and toward a pattern marked by a persistent moderate elevation of externalizing behavior that was evident at home and not at school. This finding should be interpreted cautiously given the small number of girls with the elevated EXT. Surprisingly, the intervention also moved girls away from stable low level externalizing behavior toward the moderately elevated pattern. Both of the significant effects on girls’ externalizing behavior were modest. No statistically significant effects were found for boys’ externalizing behaviors, which exhibited a somewhat different patterning across time and reporter. Effect sizes were generally similar for the nurse and paraprofessional-visited groups. The results are discussed in the context of prior efforts to prevent early EXT and emerging evidence on the normative development of externalizing behavior.

Keywords

Prevention Externalizing Infancy Toddlerhood RCT 

Notes

Funding

The current phase of this research was supported by grants 99012, 99030, and 2001-049 from the Colorado Trust, 90PD0232 and 90XP0017 from the Administration for Children and Families, 2004-52854-CO-JS from the Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention, 2005-MU-MU-001 from the US Department of Justice, and 1R01MH069891, 1R01MH62485, and 1K05-MH01382 from the National Institute of Mental Health.

Compliance with Ethical Standards

All procedures performed in studies involving human participants were in accordance with the ethical standards of the Colorado Multiple Institutional Review Board and with the 1964 Helsinki declaration and its later amendments or comparable ethical standards. Informed consent was obtained from all individual participants included in the study.

Conflict of Interest

Michael Lorber and Nancy Donelan-McCall declare that they have no conflicts of interest. The Prevention Research Center for Family and Child Health (PRC), directed by David Olds, receives fees and travel expenses from governments and entities outside of the United States to implement the Nurse-Family Partnership©. Licensing fees are charged to international entities for implementing the program. The fees are used to support program implementation in international contexts and research on testing and improving the NFP and its implementation. In the US, the program is replicated by the NFP National Service Office, which provides funding to the PRC to conduct research aimed at improving the NFP model and its implementation. None of these fees are used to augment Dr. Olds’s university salary. Professor Olds does receive honoraria for writing and speaking about the NFP.

Supplementary material

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Copyright information

© Society for Prevention Research 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  • Michael F. Lorber
    • 1
    • 2
    Email author
  • David L. Olds
    • 2
  • Nancy Donelan-McCall
    • 2
  1. 1.New York UniversityNew York CityUSA
  2. 2.University of Colorado at Denver Health Sciences CenterDenverUSA

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