Research is urgently needed to rigorously test a skills-based intervention for dating violence prevention among juvenile justice girls. Court-involved, non-incarcerated (CINI) girls represent a particularly high-risk group for dating violenc exposure. This is due to the multiple risk factors they possess that have demonstrated associations with teen dating violence outcomes in other high-risk adolescent female populations. Despite the critical need for these young women to learn strategies that offset their heightened risk for involvement in coercive romantic relationships, no such evidence-based interventions exist for this population. The goal of the current study is to establish the efficacyof Date SMART (K23MH086328), a theoretically-driven skills-based intervention, in reducing dating violence, sexual risk behavior, and delinquency among girls in the juvenile justice system. Pilot data reveal that girls randomized to the Date SMART intervention spend significantly fewer days in violent relationships compared to girls randomized to the comparison condition. They also show improvements in condom use at last sex and reductions in delinquency. Moreover, the risk profile of adolescent girls who participated in the pilot trial is remarkably similar to the profile of adolescent girls involved in the juvenile justice system. Thus Date SMART is uniquely suited for CINI girls. Despite the promise of Date SMART, the time lag from pilot testing to efficacy testing and final dissemination activities is protracted, as researchers fail to consider questions of effectiveness early on. Hybrid designs that retain core components of efficacy trials (randomization, controlled conditions) and essential elements of effectiveness research (e.g., participant diversity; standardized training procedures, attention to cost) can reduce time to implementation in the real world. As such, we plan to test the efficacy of Date SMART on dating violence, sexual risk, and delinquency among 250 court-involved, non-incarcerated girls. We will also gather effectiveness data from key stakeholders to determine how best to implement the program, train staff, and predict the cost of the program within the juvenile court. CINI girls, ages 14-17 (N= 12 juveniles for Phase I Intervention Run-Through; N=250 for Phase II RCT study) will be recruited from the Rhode Island Family Court and Probation Departments and randomized to either the Date SMART (active) intervention (n=125) or a Health Promotion (control) condition (n=125). In Phase I (12 juveniles will be recruited to complete the Intervention Run-Through and research assessment once to allow testing of RCT intervention and assessment procedures prior to the RCT phase. In Phase II, 250 juveniles will be recruited and randomized at baseline and then re-assessed at 3, 6, 9 and 12 month post-intervention follow-ups.

Public Health Relevance

Girls in the juvenile justice system are at high risk for dating violence exposure as well as co-occurring problems with delinquency and sexual risk taking. Despite the multitude of negative outcomes associated with dating violence, no evidence-based preventive interventions exist for juvenile justice girls. This study will advance scientific knowledge by testing the efficacy of a promising, skills-based intervention (Date SMART) on reducing dating violence, delinquency and sexual risk outcomes for a broad range of court-involved, non- incarcerated girls.

National Institute of Health (NIH)
Eunice Kennedy Shriver National Institute of Child Health & Human Development (NICHD)
Research Project (R01)
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Psychosocial Development, Risk and Prevention Study Section (PDRP)
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Esposito, Layla E
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Northeastern University
Schools of Allied Health Profes
United States
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Collibee, Charlene; Rizzo, Christie J; Kemp, Kathleen et al. (2018) Depressive Symptoms Moderate Dating Violence Prevention Outcomes Among Adolescent Girls. J Interpers Violence :886260518770189