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Guiding Good Choices


Program Info
Program Overview
Program Participants
Evaluation Methods
Key Evaluation Findings
Probable Implementers
Funding
Implementation Detail
Issues to Consider
Example Sites
Contact Information
Available Resources
Bibliography
Last Reviewed

 

Program Info

Outcome Areas
Healthy and Safe Children

Indicators
Youths not using alcohol, tobacco, or illegal drugs

Topic Areas

     Age of Child
       Middle Childhood (9-12)
       Adolescence (13-18)
     Type of Setting
       Elementary School
       Middle School
       High School
       Community-Based Service Provider
       Health Care Provider
     Type of Service
       Family Support
       Health Education
       Parent Education
       Youth Development
     Type of Outcome Addressed
       Physical Health
       Substance Use and Dependence

Evidence Level  (What does this mean?)
Proven

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Program Overview

Guiding Good Choices (GGC) (formerly known as Preparing for the Drug Free Years) is a program designed to teach parents skills that can help prevent drug and alcohol abuse in their families. Dr. David Hawkins and Dr. Richard Catalano developed the program based on the social development model, which holds that strong bonding to positive influences reduces problem behaviors, such as delinquency and substance abuse. This is combined with research that has identified both risk and protective factors in the development of behavior problems. Risk factors include a low level of communication between parents and children, poorly defined and communicated expectations for children’s behavior, excessively severe and inconsistent discipline, and high levels of negative interaction or family conflict. Protective factors include regular communication or parental warmth and affection, presentation of clear and pro-social expectations, monitoring of children, and consistent and moderate discipline.

The primary goal of GGC is to increase family involvement that is rewarding and enhances parent-child bonds. The program is offered in a series of sessions, each designed to focus on one of five areas. The program begins with increasing parents’ knowledge of the risk factors associated with drug abuse. It then focuses on teaching parents the skills that help mitigate these risk factors, such as how to clearly communicate expectations for behavior, how to reduce family conflict, and how to encourage the expression of positive feelings and love. One of the sessions teaches both parents and children various ways to resist peer and social pressures to engage in inappropriate behavior.

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Program Participants

The GGC curriculum was designed for a general public, and is primarily intended for parents with children age 9 to 14.

The program was pilot-tested in ten Seattle public schools. Among the participating students, 52 percent were minorities, 48 percent were from low-income families, and 39 percent were from single-parent homes. The evaluation studies looked at 209 families in the central Midwest, where the families were predominantly white. It has been used to train more than 275,000 urban, suburban, and rural families in all 50 states, DC, PR, VI and Canada.

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Evaluation Methods

Note: GGC was evaluated when the program was called Preparing for the Drug Free Years (PDFY), and this section uses the PDFY name to match the language found in the evaluation studies.

The first evaluation (Kosterman and Hawkins, 1997) recruited families of all sixth and seventh graders from six schools districts in the central Midwest. Of the 387 families identified, 209 completed the pretest assessment. The families were then randomly assigned to either the program or to a wait-listed control group. The measures included surveys and videotapes of two family activities, Task 1 and Task 2, conducted at the families’ homes before and following the intervention. Before each videotaping, family members independently filled out a survey identifying the primary causes of family disagreements, such as chores, curfews, or finances. Then in Task 1, the family was asked to answer some questions concerning general family life, such as how chores were handled. In Task 2, the family was asked to discuss and resolve an issue they had identified in the earlier survey.

Using the videotapes, the families were then scored on a five-point scale across 60 different individual dimensions. For analysis, these dimensions were grouped into three main areas: proactive communication, negative interaction, and relationship quality. The analysis only included parents participating in both the pretest and posttest (174 mothers and 157 fathers), regardless of how many individual sessions the parents had attended.

The second evaluation (Park et al., 2000) recruited all families of sixth graders enrolled at 33 rural schools in 19 contiguous, economically stressed counties in a Midwestern state. Grouped by school size and proportion of lower-income students, 11 schools were assigned to the control group, 11 to the PDFY program, and 11 to a second intervention condition. Of the 883 families in the 22 PDFY or control schools, 424 families agreed to participate and completed the initial pretest assessment (217 PDFY and 207 control families). Of these, 85 percent completed the posttest, 73 percent completed the one-year follow-up, 67 percent completed the two-year follow-up, and 70 percent completed the three-year follow-up (144 PDFY and 151 control families).

Information was collected up to two months prior to the intervention with family questionnaires and a videotaped family task, although the videotapes were not used in the evaluation. A similar posttest assessment was completed approximately nine months later, with follow-up assessments at about 1, 2, and 3.5 years after the intervention. The evaluation team created four constructs based on items from the parent and child surveys. The first measured parents’ norms against substance use (e.g., How wrong would it be for children who are the same age as your child to drink alcohol?). The second measured family management, assessing parents’ vigilance in monitoring the child. The third assessed family conflict -- the amount and the ways in which the family dealt with conflict. The fourth assessed the child’s refusal skills -- his or her ability to refuse peer pressure to drink. The measure for alcohol use was constructed from the child’s self-reporting of initial alcohol use and frequency of drinking. In the scales that were developed, a higher score represents a higher level of the construct -- i.e., stronger parental norms, better family management, more family conflict, better refusal skills, and more alcohol use.

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Key Evaluation Findings

Note: GGC was evaluated when the program was called Preparing for the Drug Free Years (PDFY), and this section uses the PDFY name to match the language found in the evaluation studies.

The evaluation study by Kosterman and Hawkins (1997) found the following:

  • The program was effective in promoting proactive communication from parent to child. After the program, mothers in Task 1 and both parents in Task 2 showed much more proactive communication.

  • In Task 1, mothers were significantly less likely to engage in negative interaction, specifically antagonistic behavior.

  • Both mothers and fathers appeared to be positively influenced by the program, but the behavior appeared to vary by the type of family interaction context. The mothers’ improvements were most noticeable in Task 1 while the fathers’ improvements were significant only in Task 2.

The Park et al. (2000) study found that:
  • Over a two-year period, PDFY parents showed significantly more improvement than the control group in norms against alcohol and other drug use.

  • There was significantly less growth in alcohol use among youths in the PDFY group over time compared with controls. At the three-and-a-half-year follow-up, 65 percent of the control students reported initiating alcohol use compared with 52 percent of the PDFY students.

  • There was also less total alcohol use among youths in the PDFY group. At the three-and-a-half-year follow-up, 40 percent of the control students reported using alcohol in the past month compared with 24 percent of the PDFY students, and 42 percent of the control students reported being drunk compared with 32 percent of PDFY students.
A cost-benefit analysis of PDFY (Roth, Guyll & Day, 2002) estimates a $5.85 benefit for every dollar invested in the program.

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Probable Implementers

Schools and community organizations.

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Funding

The National Institute of Drug Abuse funded the original research and program development by Hawkins and Catalano. The U.S. Department of Education's Drug Free Schools and Communities Program sponsored the field-testing and evaluation study.

The program implemented in the Midwest costs approximately $730 (in 2003 dollars) per participant (Roth, Guyll & Day, 2002).

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Implementation Detail

Program Design

  • The goal of the program is to reduce drug abuse and behavioral problems by

    • increasing involvement and interaction between parents and children
    • reducing family conflict
    • increasing the promotion of good behavior through better and more consistent family management.

  • The program targets parents with children age 9 to 14, a time when they are facing increasing numbers of outside risk factors.
  • Recruiting and retaining parents for the full five sessions can be challenging. The most successful approaches use multiple strategies focused on overcoming the common barriers to participation and that are specifically tailored to a community’s needs.

Curriculum

The program is divided into five two-hour sessions, or ten one-hour sessions. Each session has a particular theme and parents are given activities to complete at home with the entire family.

Session 1, "Getting Started: How to Prevent Drug Abuse in Your Family," provides an overview of the risk factors associated with adolescent substance abuse and the theory of why social bonding may help mitigate those factors.

Session 2, "Setting Clear Family Expectations on Drugs and Alcohol," focuses on parenting skills. Parents learn how to develop family guidelines, how to effectively convey their expectations for children’s behavior, and how to establish consequences for bad behavior. Parents also involve their children in a family meeting to develop a family policy about alcohol and other drugs.

Session 3, "Avoiding Trouble," is the one session that requires the children's attendance with the parents. The session discusses the social and peer pressures adolescents will face regarding substance abuse, and then teaches skills to resist such pressures. The session focuses on the risk factors of peers who use drugs. Together, parents and children practice skills to resist peer influences using the five steps of "Refusal Skills."

Session 4, "Managing Family Conflict," is aimed at reducing risks related to family conflict, negative interaction, and rebelliousness. Among other things, parents are taught ways to properly express and control anger without damaging family bonds and how to teach their children these same skills.

In Session 5, "Strengthening Family Bonds," parents learn ways to expand family involvement. The session also emphasizes the benefits of expressing positive feedback and love.


Staffing

The sessions are usually led by two trained community volunteers who attend a three-day training workshop where they are taught to used a structured, standardized curriculum for conducting interactive workshops.

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Issues to Consider

This program received a "proven" rating. The two evaluations used random assignment designs with large sample sizes and produced scientifically credible and significant program effects. There is, however, an issue regarding participation. The families all participated in the program voluntarily in the intervention. In the Kosterman and Hawkins evaluation, 57 percent of the families agreed to participate, whereas in the Park et al. study, only 48 percent of the eligible families agreed to participate. Although it is not clear whether the program results would be similar in cases in which families did not participate voluntarily, it is likely that participation would be voluntary in most replication settings.

While these two evaluations suggest the program would only reach about half of the potential families, the results are positive for those families who do participate. Furthermore, the program seems to have positive effects even though many families did not attend every session. For example, in the Park study, only 61 percent of the families attended all five sessions.

In addition to affecting the substance use benchmark, the program also had positive impacts on other outcomes such as communication between parents and their children.

Finally, when considering the evaluations and outcomes, it is important to note that the evaluation team included a developer of the program.

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Example Sites

Seattle, Washington School District; Iowa State University, Project Family; Florida, Broward County Commission on Substance Abuse

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Contact Information

Channing Bete Company
One Community Place
South Deerfield, MA 01373-0200
Phone: (877) 896-8532
Fax: (800) 499-6464
E-mail: custsvcs@channing-bete.com
Web site: www.channing-bete.com/ggc

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Available Resources

Training is available from certified, experienced trainers who will assist in the implementation of the program and help ensure its fidelity. The training contact for Guiding Good Choices is:

Dr. Dorothy Ghylin
81 NW Doncee Dr.
Bremerton, WA 98311-9110
(360) 649-8903 (mobile) or (360) 692-9986
(360) 613-0726 (fax)
dr.d.ghylin@comcast.net

The Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention (OJJDP) provides information on Guiding Good Choices (formerly known as Preparing for the Drug Free Years) at http://www.ncjrs.org/html/jjbulletin/9907/contents.html.

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Bibliography

Kosterman, R., and J. David Hawkins, "Effects of a Preventive Parent-Training Intervention on Observed Family Interactions: Proximal Outcomes from Preparing for the Drug Free Years,"  Journal of Community Psychology,  Vol. 25, No. 4, 1997, pp. 337-352. 

Park, J., Kosterman, R., Hawkins, J. David, et al., "Effects of the 'Preparing for the Drug Free Years" Curriculum on Growth in Alcohol Use and Risk for Alcohol Use in Early Adolescence,"  Prevention Science,  Vol. 1, No. 3, 2000, pp. 125-138. 

Spoth, R.L., Guyll, M., and Day, S.X., “Universal Family-Focused Interventions in Alcohol-Use Disorder Prevention: Cost Effectiveness and Cost-Benefit Analyses of Two Interventions,”  Journal of Studies on Alcohol,  Vol. 63, No. 2, 2002, pp. 219-228. 

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Last Reviewed

August 2009

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