Wednesday, January 20, 2021: 1:30 PM-2:30 PM
Cluster: Adolescent and Youth Development
Valerie B. Shapiro, PhD, University of California, Berkeley
Antonio Garcia, PhD, University of Kentucky
Behavior health problems are prevalent in young people. Strong evidence indicates that we can prevent many of these problems before they emerge. The Grand Challenge to Ensure Healthy Development for All Youth seeks to reduce behavioral health problems in young people-and reduce embedded racial and socioeconomic disparities-by 20% within a decade (Hawkins et al., 2015) through the power of prevention. At SSWR 2019, the Coalition for the Promotion of Behavioral Health adopted a strategic plan for making progress toward these aims, repeating the call for prevention programs to be efficacious, but also calling for them to be sustainable, cost-beneficial, and equity-enhancing. In JSSWR's thematic issue on the topic, guest editors suggest that this will require, among other things, (1) disaggregating research findings by meaningful participant subgroups when reporting intervention effects, and (2) conducting participatory research projects with potential research users, including consumers and service providers (Shapiro & Bender, 2018). This symposium presents three original research papers united by these goals; collectively illustrating this need and using these strategies. The first paper considers registries that intend to guide decision-makers toward evidence-based practices. Specifically, it explores the extent to which studies compiled by the Blueprints for Healthy Youth Development repository disaggregate research findings by racial and ethnic subgroups. It finds that nearly all intervention studies they draw upon to designate "model" programs describe the racial/ethnic composition of their study sample, but only 10% of papers discuss intervention effects by race or ethnicity. This lack of disaggregation occurs in a context where the majority of study samples are predominantly White. Exploring only average change in these samples does not clarify the extent model programs prevent behavioral health problems for young people of diverse racial and ethnic backgrounds. The second paper describes a participatory research project that modified the Strengthening Families 10-14 program for cultural relevance with immigrant and refugee communities of color. The mixed-method project featured multilingual program delivery that resulted from strong partnerships and an expanded role for interpreters as adaptation specialists. The adapted program had similar results to the non-adapted program. Lessons from this project may be useful when adapting evidence-based prevention programs for use with diverse families who have not yet been included in RCTs or analyzed as a meaningful sub-group of participants. The third paper examines intervention effects by student subgroups. It explores the extent to which (1) baseline disparities in social-emotional competence (SEC) exist by student characteristics, and (2) a Social and Emotional Learning (SEL) intervention disrupts or maintains any observed disparities. The study finds baseline disparities by gender, grade, race, and special education status, and suggests that a universal SEL intervention may prevent disparities in SEC from widening for Black youth throughout the school year. In order to ensure healthy development for all youth, prevention programs should be studied for efficacy across diverse subgroups, evolved as necessary through participatory processes, and assessed for their equity-enhancing potential. An expert in the research-to-practice gap for youth of color will comment on the presentations and facilitate discussion.
* noted as presenting author
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