Awarded Research Grant to Prevent Violence and Violence-Related Injury


This project will develop and pilot test Families for Safe Dates, a family-based program designed to address multiple types of youth violence, including dating violence (psychological, physical, and sexual), victimization and perpetration, and violence directed at peers. The content of Families for Safe Dates will draw heavily from Safe Dates, an effective school-based, dating violence prevention program. The premise and structure will model the Family Matters program, developed and evaluated by the investigators in a national randomized trial and found to be successful in reducing the prevalence of adolescent substance use. Family Matters consisted of successive mailings of four booklets to families throughout the United States identified by Random Digit Dialing (RDD) with each mailing followed two weeks later by a telephone call from a health educator.

This research will include five pilot studies that will support the conduct, if indicated, of a subsequent national randomized efficacy trial that will use the same methods as the efficacy trial of Family Matters. Two pilot tests will develop and refine the Families for Safe Dates program. Two pilot tests will develop and refine the RDD screening protocols and the telephone interview protocols for adolescents and parents. The final pilot test, the prototype study, will replicate the procedures to be used in the future efficacy trial.

For the prototype study, 500 households with adolescents ages 13 to 15 will be identified through RDD. Baseline telephone interviews will be administered with the adolescent and parent, and half of the families will be chosen randomly to receive the Families for Safe Dates program. Follow-up telephone interviews will be conducted with parents and adolescents 3 months after program completion. In addition to being a pilot test of the full set of procedures to be used in the future efficacy trial, the prototype study will have sufficient power for examining the effects of the program on the proposed theory-based mediating variables and on several violence outcomes. The pilot tests are essential to adequately prepare for and justify the subsequent national randomized trial with sufficient sample size, study duration, and funding to fully examine the impact of the family program on the prevention of multiple forms of violence.