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Intervention in Childhood Has Positive Effects Over Time

Social development intervention during elementary school years associated with positive effects on later health and achievement

TUESDAY, Dec. 2 (HealthDay News) -- In elementary school children, social development interventions can positively affect long-term mental health, sexual health, educational and economic outcomes, according to an article published in the December issue of the Archives of Pediatrics & Adolescent Medicine.

J. David Hawkins, Ph.D., of the University of Washington in Seattle, and colleagues examined the effect on long-term outcomes of a universal intervention in elementary schools. In this trial, 598 participants (aged 24 to 27 years) were evaluated. Beginning in 1981, participants had been randomized to different intervention arms, including a full-intervention group (intervention in grades 1 through 6), a late-intervention group (intervention in grades 5 and 6 only) and a control group (no intervention).

A significant overall difference in outcome was noted between the full-intervention and control groups, the researchers report. Compared with the control group, participants in the full-intervention group were significantly more likely to be at or above the median socioeconomic status (93 percent versus 84 percent), have fewer symptoms of mental health disorders, and be less likely to have been diagnosed with a sexually transmitted disease, the investigators found. No intervention effects were observed on substance abuse and dependence, they note.

"A universal intervention for urban elementary schoolchildren, which focused on classroom management and instruction, children's social competence, and parenting practices, positively affected mental health, sexual health, and educational and economic achievement 15 years after the intervention ended," the authors write.

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