University of Washington School of Public Health

Winter Course 2018: SOC W 516 - The Research Base for Prevention Science: Children and Adolescents


Winter 2018 Course Offering: Soc W 516 - The Research Base for Prevention Science: Children and Adolescents

SLN: 20150; 3 credits

Lecture meets: Thursdays, 6-8:50pm

Location: SWS 038

Instructor: Richard Catalano


The U.S. Children’s Bureau campaign to reduce infant mortality from 1912-1930 used epidemiological data to identify needs and home visiting to strengthen families, and is arguably unparalleled in scope and popular support of any prevention effort in social work. Despite historical linkages between the early roots of Social Work and prevention, in recent years, social workers predominantly have been involved in intervention with individuals and families after problems have been identified. This course investigates the potential for preventing major social problems with high costs to society using as illustrative cases recent developments in the prevention of child abuse and neglect, alcohol misuse, delinquency, mental health, and other problems. Preventive intervention, especially when focused on vulnerable and underserved populations, is an important tool to create equity in health and social development for children and adolescents. 

This course presents the research base for prevention science for children and adolescents including an overview of theory, research, and practice in prevention science.  A developmental perspective is used to focus on factors that promote or inhibit healthy development at different stages from before birth through adolescence.  Topics include the promotion of healthy development in childhood and adolescence and the prevention of problems that impede healthy development including child abuse and neglect, substance abuse, unwanted pregnancy, violence, delinquent behavior, school misbehavior, dropout, and mental health disorders.

The National Research Council and Institute of Medicine’s Mental Health Intervention Spectrum (2009) is used as a framework to distinguish mental health promotion and universal, selective, and indicated prevention from treatment.  The course demonstrates how prevention science is built on the foundations of developmental epidemiology on biopsychosocial predictors of positive and problem behavior and the distribution of these predictors and behaviors across development and geography.  The course follows the preventive intervention research cycle to explore the role of clinical and field trials in identifying efficacious and effective preventive interventions.  Approaches, results, and issues in large scale, community preventive interventions are also explored.  Finally, opportunities and prospects for dissemination of effective preventive interventions and research on dissemination are investigated.