Identifying Moderators of Response to the Penn Resiliency Program: A Synthesis Study

Steven M. Brunwasser, Jane E. Gillham

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

7 Scopus citations


To identify moderators of a cognitive-behavioral depression prevention program’s effect on depressive symptoms among youth in early adolescence, data from three randomized controlled trials of the Penn Resiliency Program (PRP) were aggregated to maximize statistical power and sample diversity (N = 1145). Depressive symptoms, measured with the Children’s Depression Inventory (CDI; Kovacs 1992), were assessed at six common time points over two-years of follow-up. Latent growth curve models evaluated whether PRP and control conditions differed in the rate of change in CDI and whether youth- and family-level characteristics moderated intervention effects. Model-based recursive partitioning was used as a supplementary analysis for identifying moderators. There was a three-way interaction of PRP, initial symptom severity, and intervention site on growth in depressive symptoms. There was considerable variability in PRP’s effects, with the nature of the interaction between PRP and initial symptom levels differing considerably across sites. PRP reduced depressive symptoms among youth with unmarried parents, but not among those with married parents. Finally, PRP’s effects differed across school grade levels. Although initial symptom severity moderated PRP’s effect on depressive symptoms, it was not a reliable indicator of how well the intervention performed, limiting its utility as a prescriptive variable. Our primary analyses suggest that PRP’s effects are limited to youth whose parents are unmarried. The small number of fifth grade students (n = 25; 2 %) showed a delayed and sustained intervention response. Our findings underscore the importance of evaluating site, family, and contextual characteristics as moderators in future studies.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)38-48
Number of pages11
JournalPrevention Science
StatePublished - Feb 1 2018
Externally publishedYes

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Public Health, Environmental and Occupational Health


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