Program

Dec 15, 2008

OVERVIEW

The Montreal Prevention Experiment was designed to reduce
antisocial behavior among elementary school boys exhibiting disruptive
behaviors. The program consisted of both a parent and a child component. In an
effort to reduce antisocial behaviors and promote school adjustment, parents
and their children participating in the Montreal Prevention Experiment (MPE)
received a series of skills training sessions over the course of two years. The
training sessions largely emphasized management and monitoring skills for
parents, as well as prosocial and self-control skills for boys. Upon completion
of the treatment, results indicate that boys who participated in the MPE
performed better on measures of school adjustment and delinquency in comparison
with peers who did not receive the treatment. Some impacts lasted through age
15.

DESCRIPTION OF PROGRAM

Target population: Boys ages 7-9
exhibiting disruptive behaviors and their parents

The Montreal Prevention Experiment is a manualized program
designed to target boys in elementary school who had been identified in
kindergarten by teachers as exhibiting disruptive behavior. The treatment was
intended to prevent the onset of subsequent antisocial behaviors and offset the
effects such behavior may have on school achievement. The Montreal Prevention
Experiment began when children were approximately seven years old and was two
years in duration. During that time, parents and children met in a series of
sessions with caseworkers. Caseworkers assessed each family individually and
determined the number of sessions based on the severity of behavior.

The parent sessions each lasted less than an hour and taught
parents skills to manage family crises, monitor behavior, discipline
effectively, and reinforce positive behaviors. Boys were invited, but not
required, to attend parent sessions. On average, families participated in a
total of 20 sessions over the course of the two-year period.

The boys in MPE received separate skills training sessions
in small groups that included some of their more prosocial peers at school.
Sessions incorporated role-playing, peer modeling, reinforcement techniques and
coaching. In the first year of the program, the boys participated in nine
sessions that emphasized prosocial skills such as offering help and asking for
reasons. In the second year, ten sessions were dedicated to self-control skills
like following rules and anger management. Although caseworkers also conducted
the boys’ sessions, boys and parents were not treated by the same caseworker.

EVALUATION(S) OF PROGRAM

McCord, J., Tremblay, R.E., Vitaro, F.,
& Desmarais-Gervais, L. (1994).
Boys’ disruptive behaviour,
school adjustment, and delinquency: The Montreal
Prevention Experiment. International Journal of Behavioral Development, 17(4),
739-752.

Evaluated population: The study sample
included 166 Canadian boys who were part of a larger study of youth called the
Montreal Longitudinal-Experimental Study. Children were primarily White, came
from families with below-average household incomes, and lived in a large city.
The sample was selected because they had been rated above the top 70th
percentile on the disruptive behavior scale administered to teachers. Boys were
French-speaking and came from families in which parents had less than 14 years
of schooling.

Approach: In the spring of 1984, teachers from 53
schools submitted evaluations on 1,161 kindergarten boys on measures of
disruptive behavior, anxiety, prosocial behavior, and inattentiveness. Children
who scored above the 70th percentile on teacher evaluations of
disruptive behavior were asked to participate in the study (n=319). Of those
asked to participate, 172 agreed. Upon verification of original sample
demographic characteristics, six cases were dropped from the current analyses. The
resulting sample of 166 participants includes n=43 treatment cases, n=82
comparison cases, and n=41 control cases.

The Montreal Prevention Experiment began in 1985 when the
participants, on average, were seven years old. The treatment was completed in
1987, and follow-up evaluations were conducted annually beginning one year
after program completion, when the boys were approximately 10 years old. Upon
entry into the study, subjects were randomly assigned to one of three
conditions. The treatment group (n=46) received the MPE training sessions
outlined previously. The attention-control group (n=84) did not participate in
sessions but was similar to the treatment group in the amount of general
attention they received from the study and the control group (n=42) was only
contacted at the time of evaluation.

Six follow-ups were obtained for this randomized controlled
study. Program outcomes were
assessed using teacher and child reports of disruptive and delinquent behavior,
administrative records of school adjustment and delinquency, and self-reported
perceptions of parenting behavior.

Results: With the exception of maternal occupational
status, no differences were found on basic demographic or academic measures
among the three groups at baseline. Mothers in the treatment group were found
to have slightly lower occupational status than those in the other groups.
Comparisons of teacher evaluations at kindergarten revealed that there were
slight group differences on measures of disruptive behavior. The treatment
group was generally midway between the comparison and control groups with the
exception of fighting, which was highest among treatment boys.

Outcomes assessed in the study included school adjustment
and delinquency. School adjustment measures were based on school records, in
addition to annual teacher and peer evaluations. Delinquency was based on
self-reported measures. Over 80 percent of each condition group was available
for follow-up post treatment. The control and comparison groups were systematically
compared on the outcome variables and found to have no significant differences.
For purposes of analyses, these groups were combined into a single comparison
group.

School adjustment was determined according to
age-appropriate classroom placement and disruptive behavior. Upon program
completion, 64 percent of the control group and 76 percent of the treatment
group were in regular third-grade classrooms. These numbers continued to
decline through age 12 for both groups; however the study found a significant
group effect where treatment boys were more likely than control group boys to
be in age-appropriate classrooms.

Boys were considered to have disruptive behavior if they
scored above the 70th percentile on a rating based on either the teacher and peer-rated questionnaires. At
post-treatment in 1987, 68.6 percent of treatment boys and 74.3 percent of
control boys were classified as disruptive. In 1990, those numbers dropped to
55 percent and 71.2 percent, respectively. Differences between the two
conditions were not statistically significant.

Boys were considered to have achieved satisfactory school
adjustment if they were in age-appropriate class placements and scored at or
below the 70th percentile on reports of disruptive behavior. At each
year of follow-up, a greater proportion of treatment boys achieved satisfactory
school adjustment than control boys, however results were only significant in
1989 and 1990 (p<.05). After controlling for group differences reported by
teachers in the kindergarten year, differences between groups were significant
in 1990 only.

Finally, boys were assessed on measures of delinquency which
included theft, trespassing with the intention of stealing, fighting, and
engaging in mischievous behavior with peers/gangs. Because sample sizes were
often too small to analyze separately, measures were combined into theft and
misbehavior and aggregated across years. Data revealed that 31.8 percent of
treatment boys, compared with 54.9 percent of control boys committed at least
one theft between the ages of 10 and 12. Differences were significant at the
p<.01 level. In 1990, 2 percent of treatment boys and 19 percent of control
boys reported engaging in misbehavior with gangs. This difference was
significant at the p<.03 level.

Although impacts from the evaluation of the Montreal
Prevention Experiment are promising, there are several limitations to the
study. First, although the control and comparison groups were examined
consistently on the outcome measures before collapsing the two, the two groups
did have different experiences in the program. Second, mothers had originally
completed evaluations on the boys’ disruptive behaviors that were not used in
analyses. The study designated mother-report questionnaires as unreliable due
to varying levels of program participation and therefore, awareness, of boys’
skills and behaviors.

Tremblay,
R. E., Pagani-Kurtz, L., Masse, L. C., Vitaro, F., & Pihl, R. O. (1995).
A Bimodal Preventive Intervention for Disruptive Kindergarten Boys: Its Impact through Mid-Adolescence. Journal of Consulting
and Clinical Psychology, 63(4), 560-568.

Evaluated Population: This is
a follow-up study to the 1994 study, therefore the
population is the same.

Approach: Unless
otherwise noted, sampling design, research design, and study measures do not
differ from the previous evaluation.

Results: Findings
indicate that the program has long-term effects on self-reported delinquency,
however impacts on teacher ratings and administrative records of disruptive
behavior were not found. Patterns of effects on self-reported delinquency were
not influenced by time. Interestingly, compared with untreated boys, treated
boys were more likely to be in age-appropriate classrooms from ages 10 to 12,
but not from ages 13 to 15.

Note: Analysis
procedures did not adjust the standard errors of the estimates to account for
the nesting of observations within individuals. Therefore, findings should be
interpreted with caution.

Tremblay, R.E., Masse, L., Pagani, L.,
& Vitaro, F. (1996).
From childhood physical aggression to
adolescent maladjustment: The Montreal
Prevention Experiment.
In R.D. Peters and R.J. McMahon
(Eds.) Preventing Childhood Disorders, Substance Abuse, and Delinquency.
Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage Publications.

Evaluated Population: This is
a follow-up study to the 1994 study, therefore the
population is the same.

Approach: Unless
otherwise noted, sampling design, research design, and study measures do not
differ from the previous evaluation.

Results:In the current analyses, one additional
demographic characteristic, parental age at child’s birth, was found to differ
among conditions. Mothers in the comparison group were younger than their
control group counterparts, while fathers in the treatment group were older
than those in the comparison group.

Because these analyses follow boys through early
adolescence, additional self-report measures were included which consist of age
of sexual initiation, substance abuse, delinquent behavior and school motivation.

Repeated comparisons of gang membership at ages 11, 13 and
15 revealed that treatment boys were significantly less likely than the control
group to be involved in gangs (p <.01). During roughly the same time period,
the percentage of all sample children who reported having been drunk or taking
drugs in the past 12 months increased linearly until age 14. At age 15,
however, when compared to boys in the control group, significantly fewer boys
in the treatment group reported having been drunk (p<.02) or having taken
drugs (p<.05).

Boys’ reports of delinquent behavior through early
adolescence continue to mirror earlier trends. Boys who participated in the
treatment group were significantly less likely to engage in delinquent acts
than those in the control group and this trend held constant from age 10
through ages 15. Boys also reported on their own police arrests and those of
their friends in the past 12 months. From ages 11 through 13, no differences
were found between groups on the frequency of subjects’ arrests. Although the
control group reported more arrests at 13 to 15 years of age, differences from
the treatment group were not statistically significant. Friends’ police arrests
were less frequent among treatment boys but were only significantly different
from the control group between the ages of 13 and 15 (p<.05).

On measures of sexual initiation, no significant differences
were found between conditions from ages 13 to 15. School motivation was
found to decline from ages 10 through 15, but differences between groups were
not statistically significant. Finally, researchers expected that the better
school adjustment experienced by treatment boys in elementary school would
continue into high school. No differences were found, however, between groups
on age-appropriate classroom placements. In fact, only 33.3 percent of
treatment boys and 32.2 percent of comparison boys were in age-appropriate
classrooms at age fifteen.

SOURCES FOR MORE INFORMATION

References

McCord, J., Tremblay, R.E., Vitaro, F.,
& Desmarais-Gervais, L. (1994). Boys’ disruptive behaviour, school
adjustment, and delinquency: The Montreal Prevention Experiment. International
Journal of Behavioral Development, 17
(4), 739-752.

Tremblay, R.E., Masse, L., Pagani, L.,
& Vitaro, F. (1996). From childhood physical aggression to
adolescent maladjustment: The Montreal
Prevention Experiment.
In R.D. Peters and R.J. McMahon
(Eds.) Preventing Childhood Disorders, Substance Abuse, and Delinquency.
Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage Publications.

Tremblay,
R. E., Pagani-Kurtz, L., Masse, L. C., Vitaro, F., & Pihl, R. O. (1995).
A Bimodal Preventive Intervention for Disruptive Kindergarten Boys: Its Impact through Mid-Adolescence. Journal of Consulting
and Clinical Psychology, 63(4),
560-568.

KEYWORDS: Children, Elementary School, Gender Specific (Males
Only), Behavioral Problems, Social/ Emotional Health and Development,
Education, Academic Achievement, Life Skills Training, Skills Training,
Children, Middle Childhood (6-11), Urban, Disruptive Behavior Disorders,
Delinquency, Violence, Educational Expectations, School Engagement,
Clinic-Based, Provider-Based, Cognitive Development, Teen Pregnancy,
Reproductive Health, Sexual Initiation, Substance Abuse.

Program information last updated on
12/15/08.