Principles for designing randomized preventive trials in mental health: An emerging developmental epidemiology paradigm

C. Hendricks Brown, Jason Liao

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

113 Scopus citations


An emerging population-based paradigm is now being used to guide the design of preventive trials used to test developmental models. We discuss elements of the designs of several ongoing randomized preventive trials involving reduction of risk for children of divorce, for children who exhibit behavioral or learning problems, and for children whose parents are being treated for depression. To test developmental models using this paradigm, we introduce three classes of design issues: design for prerandomization, design for intervention, and design for postintervention. For each of these areas, we present quantitative results from power calculations. Both scientific and cost implications of these power calculations are discussed in terms of variation among subjects on preintervention measures, unit of intervention, assignment, balancing, number of pretest and posttest measures, and the examination of moderation effects.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)673-710
Number of pages38
JournalAmerican Journal of Community Psychology
Issue number5
StatePublished - Oct 1999



  • Attrition
  • Developmental epidemiologic preventive trials
  • Doubly randomized designs
  • Growth models
  • Participation bias
  • Prevention science
  • Replication
  • Selection bias
  • Statistical interactions
  • Statistical power
  • Trial within a trial
  • Unit of intervention

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Public Health, Environmental and Occupational Health
  • Psychology(all)
  • Social Sciences (miscellaneous)

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