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IBS Speaker Series: Pam Buckley, Christine Steeger, Charleen Gust

October 23, 2023 @ 12:00 pm 1:00 pm

Join in person or via Zoomemail for the password.
*Light lunch served at 11:45, please RSVP.

Title: Evidence-Based Behavioral Programs for Youth – What are they? Are they inclusive of diverse populations? Do they build a more equitable future for all youth, families and communities?

Abstract: Evidence-based programs (EBPs) for youth are structured preventive interventions that have been developed from rigorously evaluated scientific research and shown to be effective in promoting positive behavior, mental health, and well-being among children and adolescents. “Evidence-based” terminology, however, is not clearly and consistently used or defined, and without proper guidance, consumers may assume that all evidence is equal. To identify which interventions are “evidence-based,” this presentation will begin by describing standards of evidence that focus primarily on internal validity and evidence of effectiveness supported by randomized controlled trials (RCTs) or other quasi-experimental design studies (QEDs) using causal inference methods. Since prevention programs serve diverse groups in terms of race, ethnicity, culture, and other sociodemographic factors, questions are continually raised about the extent to which the results of impact trials can be generalized to new populations, settings, and points in time. External validity – the remaining focus of this talk – is therefore also increasingly salient as developers of EBPs, practitioners and community members wrestle with implementation barriers. The second section of the presentation will present findings from a systematic review of race and ethnicity reporting and representation among 885 behavioral youth programs with evaluations published from 2010-2021 (Buckley at al., 2023). The study shows that better reporting is needed to advance EBPs that reduce racial disparities and to determine whether communities with unique demographic features (e.g., rural location, specific racial and/or ethnic groups, etc.) have been examined. One cannot assume the transferability of EBPs to groups that have been excluded in the development and testing of the programs. The consequences of false assumptions are serious and may lead to recommendations of interventions that will not produce expected results, which justifiably weakens support for EBPs. And finally, the third section of this presentation focuses on an in-progress descriptive study designed to summarize the differential impacts of EBP trials, and whether they benefit all youth or disproportionately improve or worsen outcomes for racial ethnic minoritized groups. We conclude with plans for a research proposal to conduct a meta-analysis aimed at quantifying the average effects of EBPs on youth behavioral outcomes, and whether EBPs are more effective for certain populations, including racial ethnic minoritized youth.


Dr. Pamela Buckley is an associate research professor in the Prevention Science Program housed within the Institute of Behavioral Science at the University of Colorado Boulder. She is also Principal Investigator of Blueprints for Healthy Youth Development, a globally recognized registry of experimentally proven interventions promoting rigorous scientific standards for

certification that serves as a resource for governmental agencies, foundations, community organizations, and practitioners seeking to make informed decisions about their investments in preventive interventions. Her expertise is in testing social programs designed to promote a healthy course of youth development. In 2023 she received the Nan Tobler Award for Review of the Prevention Science Literature for her research contributions to the field, including the importance of ensuring that evidence-based interventions are not only based on sound science but are also representative of diverse populations, readily accessible, and transparently presented.

Dr. Christine Steeger is an Assistant Research Professor in the Prevention Science Program at the Institute of Behavioral Science, University of Colorado Boulder. Her research interests are in prevention science, developmental psychopathology, etiology of youth problem behaviors, parenting and family processes, tobacco and cannabis use, and individual-, family-, school-, and community-based interventions. Her primary research areas include: 1) social-ecological risk and protective factors that may contribute to healthy youth development or development of externalizing, internalizing, and substance use problem behaviors; 2) translation of basic research into applied preventive intervention programs for youth, young adults, families, and communities; 3) rigorous methodological evaluation standards for designing and analyzing interventions through the Blueprints for Healthy Youth Development project; and 4) tobacco and cannabis research across the lifespan.

Dr. Charleen Gust recently completed her doctoral training in the Department of Psychology and Neuroscience at the University of Colorado Boulder. She joined Blueprints for Healthy Youth Development within the Institute of Behavioral Science’s Prevention Science Program in July 2023 as a full-time Research Associate. Her research interests broadly lie at the intersection of social and health psychology. Specific research areas include: (1) strategies to increase exercise adherence, both across the lifespan and in the context of other health behaviors (e.g., cannabis use); (2) health equity; and (3) yoga-based practices, specifically with regard to potential self-regulatory and neurophysiological mechanisms underlying yoga’s health-promoting effects.

IBS 155A

Institute of Behavioral Science 1440 15th Street
Boulder, CO 80302