Program

Apr 24, 2017

OVERVIEW

Bridges/Puentes aims to help improve academic outcomes and decrease internalizing and externalizing problems for urban Mexican American teens.  A random assignment study found positive impacts on family cohesion, school engagement, and effective parenting, as well as on teens’ GPAs, externalizing problems, and disciplinary action records at 1-year follow-up.

DESCRIPTION OF PROGRAM

Bridges/Puentes aims to help urban Mexican American teens succeed at school during the transition to middle school, both in terms of grades and internalizing and externalizing problems. Specifically, the intervention was created to help address the unique challenges urban Mexican American teens face, like acculturation and immigration, in addition to challenges presented by poor urban communities and teaches skills to improve parenting, teens’ coping skills, and family cohesion to help teens and their families overcome these barriers.

The intervention consists of two home visits (pre-intervention and mid-intervention) and nine weekly group sessions during which parents and adolescents received separate instruction for 1.25 hours and then joint instruction for 45 minutes afterwards.  Parent sessions aim to promote effective parenting practices, family cohesion, and parents’ promotion of school engagement in their teens through education and skills training.  Teen sessions target coping skills, family cohesion, and school engagement by using active learning strategies and teaching coping skills and strategies to balance family obligations with school and peer relationships.  Combined parent-teen sessions aimed to increase family cohesion and give both parents and teens a chance to practice the skills learned in their separate sessions.  Both parent and teen sessions are led by two-person teams of group leaders with a least bachelor’s degree, most of whom were Latino and bilingual and all of whom received a program manual and 48 hours of training.

In addition, bilingual Latino prevention experts as school liasons are provided to help families who asked for additional help with school-related problems by coaching them to use skills they learned in the intervention.

Target population: Mexican American urban, low-income teens

EVALUATION OF PROGRAM

Gonzales, N. A., Dumka, L. E., Millsap, R. E., Gottschall, A., McClain, D. B., Wong, J. J., … & Kim, S. Y. (2012). Randomized trial of a broad preventive intervention for Mexican American adolescents. Journal of consulting and clinical psychology80(1), 1.

Evaluated population: A total of 516 Mexican American 7th graders and at least one caregiver peer teen (494 mothers, 288 fathers, and 4 other caregivers) recruited from several schools participated in the study.  On average, the participating adolescents were 12 years old; 49 percent were male and 84 percent were from two-parent families.

Approach:  Hispanic seventh graders were randomly selected from four urban schools; depending on whether their family identified English or Spanish as the language most often spoken at home, teens and their families were assigned to either an English-language or a Spanish-language subgroup.  Families were then randomly assigned to either a treatment group, which received intervention programming and a brief workshop, or a control group, which only participated in a brief workshop.  At the 1.5-hour workshop for teens and parents, handouts about school resources were handed out, barriers to success in school were discussed, and families developed their own plan to support their teen’s academic success, but parenting and coping skills were not explicitly taught.  Of the families in the treatment group, 33 percent attended all intervention sessions and 64 percent attended at least five of the nine intervention sessions.

Data was collected at three assessment points: immediately before the intervention (pretest), immediately after the end of the intervention (posttest), and one year later.  Computer-assisted interviews were conducted in the home for teens and parents.

At pretest and posttest, parent reports were used to assess effective parenting and teen reports were used to assess family cohesion and teens’ coping skills and school engagement.

At pretest and 1-year follow-up, teens’ use of tobacco, marijuana, alcohol, and other illegal substance was assessed using teen reports.  Teens’ externalizing and internalizing problems were assessed using teen, caregiver, and teacher reports (obtained from each teen’s language arts and mathematics teachers).  Teens’ grades in four required subjects (language arts, math, social studies, and science) were obtained from school district records and averaged to calculate a GPA for each teen; teens’ disciplinary records were also obtained from school district records.

Results:   There were several positive intervention impacts at posttest. For teens in the English-speaking subsample, family cohesion was significantly higher for those in the treatment group as compared to the control group.  For fathers in the full sample, supportive parenting was significantly higher and for fathers in the Spanish-speaking subsample, consistent discipline was significantly higher for those in the treatment group as compared to their peers in the control group.  Among mothers who provided low levels of positive reinforcement at baseline, there was a significant positive intervention impact on positive reinforcement.  Among English-speaking mother who had low levels of monitoring at pretest, there was a significant positive intervention impact on monitoring; similarly, there was a positive intervention impact on monitoring for Spanish-speaking fathers who had low levels of monitoring at pretest.  There was also a significant positive intervention impact of harsh parenting for Spanish-speaking mothers who had high levels of harsh parenting at pretest.  For Spanish adolescents who had low school engagement at pretest, there was a significant positive intervention impact on school engagement.  There was no significant intervention impact on teens’ coping skills.

There were also positive intervention impacts on a number of teen outcomes at 1-year follow-up. There was a significant positive intervention impact for substance use levels for teens engaging in high levels of substance use at pretest. For teens with low pretest GPAs, there was a significant positive intervention impact on GPA.  Among Spanish-speaking teens with low levels of school engagement at pretest, those in the treatment group had significantly fewer externalizing problems than their peers in the control group.  However, Spanish-speaking teens with high pretest school engagement levels in the treatment group had significantly more externalizing problems than did their peers in the control group. Teens in the treatment group had significantly fewer disciplinary actions on their records at 1-year follow-up than did their peers in the control group.  There was no significant direct intervention impact on teens’ internalizing problems.

SOURCES FOR MORE INFORMATION

References

Gonzales, N. A., Dumka, L. E., Millsap, R. E., Gottschall, A., McClain, D. B., Wong, J. J., … & Kim, S. Y. (2012). Randomized trial of a broad preventive intervention for Mexican American adolescents. Journal of consulting and clinical psychology80(1), 1.

Website: http://psychology.clas.asu.edu/lab/prevention-research-center-prc/projects/bridges

Contact Information

KEYWORDS: Adolescents, Middle School, Males and Females (Co-ed), Urban, Latino/Hispanic, School-Based, Parent or Family Component, Parent Training/Education, Skills Training, Academic Achievement/Grades, Tobacco, Alcohol, Marijuana/Illicit/Prescription Drugs, Academic Motivation/Self-Concept/Expectations/Engagement, Conduct/Disruptive Disorder, Depression/Mood Disorders, Anxiety Disorders/Symptoms

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