Being “SMART” About Adolescent Conduct Problems Prevention: Executing a SMART Pilot Study in a Juvenile Diversion Agency
Gerald J. August, Timothy F. Piehler & Michael L. Bloomquist
Journal of Clinical Child & Adolescent Psychology
The development of adaptive treatment strategies (ATS) represents the next step in innovating conduct problems prevention programs within a juvenile diversion context. Toward this goal, we present the theoretical rationale, associated methods, and anticipated challenges for a feasibility pilot study in preparation for implementing a full-scale SMART (i.e., sequential, multiple assignment, randomized trial) for conduct problems prevention. The role of a SMART design in constructing ATS is presented. The SMART feasibility pilot study includes a sample of 100 youth (13–17 years of age) identified by law enforcement as early stage offenders and referred for precourt juvenile diversion programming. Prior data on the sample population detail a high level of ethnic diversity and approximately equal representations of both genders. Within the SMART, youth and their families are first randomly assigned to one of two different brief-type evidence-based prevention programs, featuring parent-focused behavioral management or youth-focused strengths-building components. Youth who do not respond sufficiently to brief first-stage programming will be randomly assigned a second time to either an extended parent- or youth-focused second-stage programming. Measures of proximal intervention response and measures of potential candidate tailoring variables for developing ATS within this sample are detailed. Results of the described pilot study will include information regarding feasibility and acceptability of the SMART design. This information will be used to refine a subsequent full-scale SMART. The use of a SMART to develop ATS for prevention will increase the efficiency and effectiveness of prevention programing for youth with developing conduct problems.