Decreasing Substance use Risk among African American Youth: Parent-based Mechanisms of Change

Steven R.H. Beach, Allen W. Barton, Man Kit Lei, Jelani Mandara, Ashley C. Wells, Steven M. Kogan, Gene H. Brody

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


African American couples (N = 139; 67.7 % married; with children between the ages of 9 and 14) were randomly assigned to (a) a culturally sensitive, couple- and parenting-focused program designed to prevent stress-spillover (n = 70) or (b) an information-only control condition in which couples received self-help materials (n = 69). Eight months after baseline, youth whose parents participated in the program, compared with control youth, reported increased parental monitoring, positive racial socialization, and positive self-concept, as well as decreased conduct problems and self-reported substance use. Changes in youth-reported parenting behavior partially mediated the effect of the intervention on conduct problems and fully mediated its impact on positive self-concept, but did not mediate effects on lifetime substance use initiation. Results suggest the potential for a culturally sensitive family-based intervention targeting adults’ couple and parenting processes to enhance multiple parenting behaviors as well as decrease youths’ substance use onset and vulnerability.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)572-583
Number of pages12
JournalPrevention Science
Issue number5
StatePublished - Jul 1 2016
Externally publishedYes


  • Adolescence
  • African American
  • Couples
  • Parenting
  • Prevention
  • Substance use

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Public Health, Environmental and Occupational Health


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