The primary goal of this project is to examine the short and long-term effects of a preventive intervention focusing on three interrelated dimensions of health: improving sleep, increasing physical activity, and improving skills in emotion regulation. This intervention targets high-risk youth at a key neuromaturational period-early adolescence-when many individuals are experiencing new challenges to regulatory systems involved in sleep, activity, and emotion regulation. This maturational period is also a crucial time in the normal development of habits, skills, and proclivities in each of these domains. Thus, early adolescence presents unique opportunities for a preventive intervention targeting these three interrelated regulatory systems. Participants will include 160 10-13 year-old children whose families are identified on the basis of sociodemographic, child, and/or family risk. Children will be selected as having difficulties in at least one of these domains (sleep, sedentary behavior, or emotion regulation) and then randomly assigned to either a control or intervention group. All families will receive baseline, one- and two-year follow-up assessments of child sleep, physical activity, and emotion regulation. Families in the preventive intervention group will be offered feedback and intervention services on these three child domains and other parenting and family issues (e.g., parent involvement, parent self-care, school problems) following the initial assessment and the one-year follow up. We hypothesize that the intervention will be associated with improvements in sleep, physical activity, and emotion regulation among those in the intervention group, as well as improvements in measures of social, behavioral, and affective function. Finally, we will explore the possibility that increases in parental involvement mediate some of the changes found in child sleep, physical activity, and emotion regulation.

Public Health Relevance

This project addresses a set of issues with enormous relevance to public health and policy, targeting early intervention to improve sleep, physical activity, and affect regulation, at a sensitive period in development. Evidence supporting the effectiveness of these interventions, and demonstrating enduring effects from the optimal developmental timing of the intervention in early adolescence would have major public health implications relevant to a broad range of behavioral, emotional, and physical health outcomes.

National Institute of Health (NIH)
Eunice Kennedy Shriver National Institute of Child Health & Human Development (NICHD)
Research Project (R01)
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Special Emphasis Panel (ZRG1-RPHB-H (03))
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Haverkos, Lynne
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University of Pittsburgh
Schools of Arts and Sciences
United States
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Allen, Nicholas B; Dahl, Ronald E (2015) Multi-Level Models of Internalizing Disorders and Translational Developmental Science: Seeking Etiological Insights that can Inform Early Intervention Strategies. J Abnorm Child Psychol 43:875-83
Rofey, Dana L; McMakin, Dana L; Shaw, Daniel et al. (2013) Self-regulation of sleep, emotion, and weight during adolescence: implications for translational research and practice. Clin Transl Sci 6:238-43
Peper, Jiska S; Dahl, Ronald E (2013) Surging Hormones: Brain-Behavior Interactions During Puberty. Curr Dir Psychol Sci 22:134-139