VI. Summary of Findings

          This review offers evidence that important and meaningful progress has been made in prevention research with children, families and schools during the last two decades. There have been advances in the theory, design, and evaluation of programs, and there are a growing number of programs with documented efficacy of beneficial impact on the reduction on psychiatric symptomology. These research findings have also influenced public policy as federal, state, and local governments are now calling for the utilization of empirically-validated, effective models of intervention for children and families.

Best Practices in Prevention Programming

Over time, researchers, practitioners, and policy makers have developed a more realistic perspective on the necessary intensity and comprehensiveness of programming to prevent psychopathology and promote positive development, especially with children and adolescents growing up in high-risk environments (Panel on High-Risk Youth, National Research Council, 1993). The following conclusions can be made regarding validated programs:

Future Directions

The past decade has brought to fruition well-designed studies that demonstrate the potential of preventive intervention in reducing harmful symptoms for children and youth. However, given the need for effective research in this field there are numerous issues for future research, policy, and practice.

In spite of substantial gains in prevention research during the last two decades, it is important to acknowledge that considerable progress is needed to affect more tangibly the lives of American children and families. Only a small group of researchers have designed and evaluated multi-year, multi-component programs that target multiple mental health outcomes. Few successful efficacy trials have been replicated by independent investigators, and there have been even fewer attempts to evaluate the implementation process and impact of widely disseminated program models. In summary, although a solid scientific base is being created, the most important knowledge regarding preventive interventions will come from the next generation of prevention researchers!