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Program Helps Prevent Substance Abuse, Behavior Problems, Depression in Black Teens


Substance use, conduct problems and depression increase in black adolescents as they enter high school. A study that examined a family-centered prevention program found it reduced these problems by more than 30 percent compared to a control group, providing a model that could be adapted by public health agencies, schools, churches and other community organizations. 

The study, “Family-centered Program Deters Substance Use, Conduct Problems, and Depressive Symptoms in Black Adolescents​,” in the January 2012Pediatrics (published online Dec. 12), tested the Strong African American Families - Teen (SAAF-T) program among 252 10th grade students, compared to 250 students in a control group. The adolescents and their caregivers in the study group attended 10 hours of programming where they learned strategies for dealing with discrimination, the importance of academic success, goal formation and strategies for attaining educational and occupational goals. The program was associated with a 36 percent decrease in conduct problems; a 32 percent decrease in substance use; and a 47 percent decrease in substance use problems. Program participants also experienced 4.5 percent fewer depressive symptoms compared to the control group. Study authors conclude the program is effective and could be disseminated at the community level.


[Embargoed until Monday, Dec. 12, 2011, at 12:01 a​.m. ET. For a copy of the full study, contact the AAP Department of Communications. For an interview with the authors, contact Gene H. Brody, PhD, at or 706/425-2992.]

The American Academy of Pediatrics is an organization of 60,000 primary care pediatricians, pediatric medical subspecialists and pediatric surgical specialists dedicated to the health, safety and well-being of infants, children, adolescents and young adults. For more information, visit​