RTI International, University of Pittsburgh test effectiveness of pediatric substance use prevention programs among low-income youth

RESEARCH TRIANGLE PARK, N.C. — In an effort to prevent substance use and related behaviors among low-income youth, RTI International, in collaboration with the University of Pittsburgh, received a grant from the National Institute on Drug Abuse to test the effectiveness of integrating and adapting a substance use screening tool for youth with a brief family-based prevention intervention, for use in primary care pediatric clinics.

The study is evaluating and refining the Youth Risk Index screening tool and the Family Check-Up program to advance the prevention of substance use and related disorders by providing the intervention in pediatric primary clinics serving urban, low-income youth.

"This innovative primary-care based approach could lead to widespread dissemination of a low-cost, fiscally self-sustaining, and effective substance abuse and antisocial behavior prevention program," said Ty Ridenour, Ph.D., senior research scientist at RTI. "Our project is unique because it is integrating an evidence-based program with a brief screening tool that fit well within the pediatric primary care setting.  Our hope is that this approach will expand programs to screen for and prevent risky behaviors and provide the services for low-income families at relatively low-cost." 

The project integrates the Youth Risk Index, a nurse-administered screening tool for 10-to-13-year-old youth who are at risk for substance abuse and related behaviors; and the Family Check-Up, a family-based intervention program to prevent substance abuse and antisocial behavior. The Youth Risk Index screening tool has been derived to predict the use of alcohol or tobacco or conduct problems up to one year after screening.

The study is also the first to combine both youth and parent screenings to identify families appropriate for the Family Check-Up program in a pediatric setting. 

To test the integrated model, researchers are conducting a clinical trial with 500 low-income, ethnically diverse parents and their 10-to-13-year-old children in a large primary care clinic in an urban area. Researchers will test the model's effectiveness on predicting problem behaviors such as youth substance use and sexual activity, and the ability of parents to mediate these behaviors. 

The project aims to do the following:

  • Replicate the effectiveness of the Youth Risk Index screening tool for the Family Check-Up 
  • Identify and address challenges in applying and integrating the Youth Risk Index and Family Check-Up prevention strategy within a primary care clinic serving urban, low-income youth
  • Test the effectiveness of combining these two programs on emerging substance use, sexual activity and behavior problems

 

Highlights

  • RTI International and the University of Pittsburgh received a grant from NIDA to test the effectiveness of integrating and adapting a substance use screening tool for youth with a brief family-based prevention intervention
  • The intervention will be tested for use in pediatric primary clinics serving urban, low-income youth