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Study Detail

Shaw, D. S., Dishion, T. J., Supplee, L., Gardner, F., & Arnds, K. (2006). Randomized trial of a family-centered approach to the prevention of early conduct problems: 2-year effects of the family check-up in early childhood. Journal of Consulting and Clinical Psychology, 74(1), 1–9.

Program(s) Reviewed: Family Check-Up® For Children

Study Screening Details

Screening DecisionScreening Conclusion
Study Passes ScreensEligible for Review

Study Design Details

RatingDesignAttritionBaseline EquivalenceReassignmentConfounding Factors
HighRandomized controlled trialLowEstablished on race/ethnicity, parents’ education, and baseline outcomes.NoneNone

Study Characteristics

Study Participants The study included 120 mothers who participated in the Women, Infants and Children (WIC) program and had sons between ages 17 and 27 months at the time of recruitment in 2001. Families also must have demonstrated at least two of three possible risk factors: (1) socioeconomic status; (2) family risk factors (maternal depression or substance abuse); and (3) child risk factors, or conduct problems. Most study participants were African American (48%) or white (40%); the remaining 12% of participants were biracial. Half of the study participants were single and never married, 45% were married or living with their partner, and 5% were separated, divorced, or widowed. Two-thirds of participating mothers had a high school diploma or less, and the average family income was $15,374.
Setting The study recruited participants from eight sites of the WIC program in the Pittsburgh, PA, area.
Home Visiting Services Family Check-Up typically involves three meetings (initial contact, assessment session, and feedback session). For the purposes of this study, the assessment was completed prior to random assignment, and thus the program group received the assessment (conducted by research staff), an interview session, a feedback session, and possible follow-ups. A trained parent consultant conducted the subsequent interview and feedback sessions. During the interview, the consultant explored parent concerns; in the feedback session, the consultant provided the results of the assessment and explored parents’ willingness to change in problem areas, reinforced parenting strengths, and identified services appropriate for the family. After the feedback session, families possibly also received up to six follow-up sessions focusing on parenting practices, family management issues, and contextual issues (such as child care resources and housing). Fifty-five of the 60 families assigned to the intervention participated in the interview and feedback sessions with the parent consultant.
Comparison Condition Families in the comparison condition received the same WIC services as the intervention group but did not receive visits or intervention from parent consultants. The comparison group also received an assessment session, conducted by research staff. Although this session typically is part of the Family Check-Up program, for the purposes of this study, the assessment was conducted prior to randomization.
Staff Characteristics and Training Two master’s-level therapists were trained to operate as parent consultants for the study. One had recently completed a master’s degree in social work and had no formal training in family or behavior therapy; the other was a professional therapist who had worked with families for five years. Both were trained for two and a half to three months using strategies developed by the study authors. These strategies included didactic instruction and role-playing, as well as ongoing videotaped supervision of intervention activity and weekly conference calls with one author to discuss problematic cases. Consultants also followed a manual and a book as guides to parenting support services following the intervention.
Funding Source National Institute of Mental Health Grant MH06291 and National Institute on Drug Abuse Grant DA016110.
Author Affiliation Thomas Dishion, a study author, is a developer of this program model.


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