Prevention Science

, Volume 19, Issue 4, pp 570–578 | Cite as

For Whom Do Parenting Interventions to Prevent Adolescent Substance Use Work?

  • Diego Garcia-Huidobro
  • Jennifer L. Doty
  • Laurel Davis
  • Iris W. Borowsky
  • Michele L. Allen


Adolescent substance use continues to be a significant public health problem. Parent training interventions are effective preventive strategies to reduce youth substance use. However, little is known about differences in effectiveness for youth across demographic characteristics. This review assessed the effectiveness of parent training programs at reducing adolescent substance use by participant gender, age, and race/ethnicity. Pubmed/MEDLINE, ERIC, CINAHL, and PsycINFO were searched from database origin to October 31, 2016. We included randomized controlled trials that evaluated parent training interventions; reported youth initiation or use of tobacco, alcohol, or other illicit substances; and included adolescents aged 10 to 19. Two independent reviewers extracted data. Disagreements were resolved by consensus or a third researcher. Data were synthesized using harvest plots stratified by participant demographics. A total of 1806 publications were identified and reviewed; 38 unique studies were included. Risk of bias of included studies was high. No studies targeted male teens or youth in late adolescence. Few studies targeted Asian-American, Black/African-American, or Hispanic/Latino adolescents. Overall, interventions including male and female youth and youth in early adolescence (age 10 to 14 or in 5th to 8th grade) were more beneficial than interventions including female-only or both young and older adolescents. Programs tailored to specific racial/ethnic groups, as well as programs designed for youth from multiple races/ethnic groups, were effective. Current evidence supports the benefits of offering parenting guidance to all families with adolescent children, regardless of the gender, age, or race/ethnicity of the adolescent.


Prevention Parenting Adolescent Smoking Alcohol drinking Substance-related disorders 



Diego Garcia-Huidobro, Jennifer Doty, and Laurel Davis were supported by the National Research Service Award (NRSA) in Primary Medical Care, grant no. T32HP22239 (PI: Borowsky), Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA), U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS).

Compliance with Ethical Standards

Conflict of Interest

The authors declare that they have no conflicts of interest.

Ethical Approval

Not applicable.

Informed Consent

Not applicable.

Supplementary material

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Note. Number in superscript after the study’s doi identifies the study ID# of the review.

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Copyright information

© Society for Prevention Research 2017

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Division of General Pediatrics and Adolescent Health, Department of PediatricsUniversity of Minnesota Medical SchoolMinneapolisUSA
  2. 2.Department of Family Medicine, School of MedicinePontificia Universidad Catolica de ChileSantiagoChile
  3. 3.Department of Family Medicine and Community Health, Medical SchoolUniversity of MinnesotaMinneapolisUSA

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