This study proposes to test the efficacy of a Mindfulness-enhanced version of the Strengthening Families Program: For Parents and Youth 10-14 (SFP 10-14) within a randomized study that will also attempt to replicate and extend research findings for SFP 10-14. The SFP 10-14 program is an evidence-based program with demonstrated effects on parenting practices and youth problem behaviors. Studies have typically produced effects in the small to medium range, suggesting the potential for enhanced effects with modifications. We will also extend the research on SFP 10-14 by examining the effects of the program on adolescent early sexual behavior. Mindfulness techniques have become a useful tool within the treatment arena and have been incorporated into intrapersonal treatments for a variety of problems including anxiety, depression, physical health ailments and alcohol abuse. Techniques have also been used to enhance adult wellness and strengthen interpersonal relationships in married couples. We propose that mindfulness is also useful within the interpersonal context of parenting. Using a conceptual model of mindful parenting we have adapted the SFP program by integrating new activities to build five targeted mindful parenting skills: Listening with full attention;Emotional Awareness of self and child;Nonjudgmental acceptance of self and child;self- regulation in parenting relationships;and compassion for self and child. We will test the efficacy of our Mindfulness-enhanced Strengthening Families Program (MSFP) within a sample of 600 6th and 7th grade youth who will be randomly assigned to one of three conditions: 1) SFP 10-14;2) MSFP;or 3) Self-study control. Multi-method, multi-reporter measurement strategy will be employed to assess families at pre-test, post-test and 1 year follow-up. Multilevel modeling techniques are used to examine the effects of the program against each other and the control, accounting for the nested structure of participant within group. We anticipate that results from this study will: 1) replicate early effects demonstrated by SFP;2) demonstrate the enhanced effects of SFP on indicators of parent-youth relationship quality, parental mindfulness, and parental well-being, 3) demonstrate enhanced effects of MSFP on youth outcomes of well-being and problem behaviors. We also hypothesize that effects will be mediated by parenting dimensions such as parent-youth affective quality, mindful parenting and child management. We will explore whether the intervention operates better for families under higher levels of stress. An enhanced effect of this evidence-based program has the potential for significant public health benefits.

Public Health Relevance

This project seeks to test an innovative family-focused preventive intervention designed to reduce risk and increase protection for adolescent substance use, conduct problems and risky sexual behavior. The program targets family and individual youth processes that are linked with onset and escalation of substance use through high school. As part of the project we will implement an evidence-based program - Strengthening Families Program: For Parents and Youth 10-14 - that has demonstrated effects on youth substance use and conduct problems. Should our experimental intervention prove to have enhanced effects, it would have substantial public health benefits for individuals, families and society.

National Institute of Health (NIH)
National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA)
Research Project (R01)
Project #
Application #
Study Section
Psychosocial Development, Risk and Prevention Study Section (PDRP)
Program Officer
Sims, Belinda E
Project Start
Project End
Budget Start
Budget End
Support Year
Fiscal Year
Total Cost
Indirect Cost
Pennsylvania State University
Other Health Professions
Schools of Allied Health Profes
University Park
United States
Zip Code
Coatsworth, J Douglas; Hemady, Katharine T; George, Melissa W (2018) Predictors of Group Leaders' Perceptions of Parents' Initial and Dynamic Engagement in a Family Preventive Intervention. Prev Sci 19:609-619
Molloy Elreda, Lauren; Coatsworth, J Douglas; Gest, Scott D et al. (2016) Understanding Process in Group-Based Intervention Delivery: Social Network Analysis and Intra-entity Variability Methods as Windows into the ""Black Box"". Prev Sci 17:925-936
Coatsworth, J Douglas; Duncan, Larissa G; Nix, Robert L et al. (2015) Integrating mindfulness with parent training: effects of the Mindfulness-Enhanced Strengthening Families Program. Dev Psychol 51:26-35
Lippold, Melissa A; Duncan, Larissa G; Coatsworth, J Douglas et al. (2015) Understanding How Mindful Parenting May Be Linked to Mother-Adolescent Communication. J Youth Adolesc 44:1663-73
Bamberger, Katharine T; Coatsworth, J Douglas; Fosco, Gregory M et al. (2014) Change in participant engagement during a family-based preventive intervention: ups and downs with time and tension. J Fam Psychol 28:811-20
Coatsworth, J Douglas; Duncan, Larissa G; Berrena, Elaine et al. (2014) The Mindfulness-enhanced Strengthening Families Program: integrating brief mindfulness activities and parent training within an evidence-based prevention program. New Dir Youth Dev 2014:45-58
Coatsworth, J Douglas; Duncan, Larissa G; Greenberg, Mark T et al. (2010) Changing Parent's Mindfulness, Child Management Skills and Relationship Quality With Their Youth: Results From a Randomized Pilot Intervention Trial. J Child Fam Stud 19:203-217