Gang involvement moderates the effectiveness of evidence-based intervention for justice-involved youth

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19 Scopus citations


There are no validated, evidence-based intervention approaches to helping youth who are involved in gang activity. The goal of this study was to evaluate the impact of gang involvement on the effectiveness of evidence-based intervention services for problem behavior delivered to youth referred by the justice system. We analyzed data drawn from 421 youth (69% male; M age. = 15.08. years, SD. = 1.32; 38% Black/African-American, 18% Latino/a, 34% White, 10% other) referred consecutively over a 13-month period for Multisystemic Therapy (MST; Henggeler, Schoenwald, Borduin, Rowland, & Cunningham, 2009) across clinical service sites in 7 different Eastern states of the US. Outcomes were indicated by successful or unsuccessful case closures, and gang involvement was indicated by a validated multi-factored classification scheme. We conducted analyses of outcomes related to gang involvement for the whole sample as well as a propensity score-matched (PSM) reduced sample. Analyses of treatment success rates indicate that gang involvement significantly and substantially reduces the effectiveness of MST in this population.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)26-33
Number of pages8
JournalChildren and Youth Services Review
StatePublished - May 1 2015

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Education
  • Developmental and Educational Psychology
  • Sociology and Political Science


  • Gangs
  • Juvenile justice
  • Multisystemic therapy
  • Problem behavior

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