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Reducing child conduct problems and promoting social skills in a developing country: a cluster-randomised controlled trial

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)101-108
JournalBritish Journal of Psychology
Issue number2
DatePublished - 2012


Background: There is an urgent need for effective, affordable interventions to prevent child mental health problems in developing countries. AimsTo determine the effects of a universal preschool-based intervention on child conduct problems and social skills at school and at home.Methods: In a cluster randomised design, 24 community preschools in inner-city areas of Kingston, Jamaica were randomly assigned to receive the Incredible Years Teacher Training intervention (n=12) or to a control group (n=12). Three children from each class with the highest levels of teacher-reported conduct problems were selected for evaluation, giving 225 children aged 3-6 years. The primary outcome was observed child behaviour at school. Secondary outcomes were child behaviour by parent and teacher report, child attendance and parents’ attitude to school. The study is registered as ISRCTN35476268.Findings: Children in intervention schools showed significantly reduced conduct problems (effect size (ES=0•44) and increased friendship skills (ES=0•74) through observation, significant reductions to teacher-reported (ES=0•47) and parent-reported (ES=0•23) behaviour difficulties and increases in teacher-reported social skills (ES=0•59) and child attendance (ES=0•31). Benefits to parent attitude to school were not significant. Conclusions: A low cost, school-based intervention in a developing country substantially reduces child conduct problems and increases child social skills at home and at school.

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