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Effects of the SAFE Children preventive intervention on developmental trajectories of attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder symptoms

  • Patrick J. Fowler (a1), David B. Henry (a2), Michael Schoeny (a3), Deborah Gorman-Smith (a3) and Patrick H. Tolan (a4)...


This study examined whether a family-based preventive intervention for inner-city children entering the first grade could alter the developmental course of attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) symptoms. Participants were 424 families randomly selected and randomly assigned to a control condition (n = 192) or Schools and Families Educating Children (SAFE) Children (n = 232). SAFE Children combined family-focused prevention with academic tutoring to address multiple developmental–ecological needs. A booster intervention provided in the 4th grade to randomly assigned children in the initial intervention (n =101) evaluated the potential of increasing preventive effects. Follow-up occurred over 5 years with parents and teachers reporting on attention problems. Growth mixture models identified multiple developmental trajectories of ADHD symptoms. The initial phase of intervention placed children on more positive developmental trajectories for impulsivity and hyperactivity, demonstrating the potential for ADHD prevention in at-risk youth, but the SAFE Children booster had no additional effect on trajectory or change in ADHD indicators.


Corresponding author

Address correspondence and reprint requests to: Patrick J. Fowler, George Warren Brown School of Social Work, Washington University in St. Louis, One Brookings Drive, St. Louis, MO 63130-4099; E-mail:


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