Implementation of a youth violence prevention programme in primary care

Roche J, Philyaw-Kotov M, Sigel E, Eisman A, Wernette G, Resnicow K, Carter P, Cunningham R, Walton M. Implementation of a youth violence prevention programme in primary care. Inj Prev. 2022;28(3):231-237. doi:10.1136/injuryprev-2021-044293.


Background and objectives: Youth violence is an alarming public health problem, yet, violence screening and interventions are not systematically offered in primary care (PC). This paper describes data from a pilot effectiveness-implementation trial of an efficacious youth violence prevention programme (SafERteens).

Methods: The study was conducted in two PC clinics: a university-affiliated satellite clinic and a community health centre. In phase 1, we obtained stakeholder feedback to customise the SafERteens package and enrolled a comparison group of adolescents (age 14-18) seeking care in two clinics. In phase 2, clinical staff delivered the SafERteens-PC intervention with adolescents, which is a single, behavioural health therapy session delivered one-on-one from clinic providers to youth patients, followed by text message (TM) reminders. In phase 3, we assessed planned maintenance. All participants reported past-year violent behaviour at intake and completed a 3-month follow-up assessment.

Results: Based on stakeholder interviews (n=13), we created a web-based SafERteens-PC programme package, including a three-item past-year violence screen, 30 min motivational interviewing-based brief intervention delivery tool, training videos and 2 months of TM boosters. We enrolled a comparison group (n=49) first, then an intervention group (n=61). Intervention delivery characteristics varied by clinic, including completion of intervention (75.9%; 62.5%), modality (100% delivered via telehealth; 60% via telehealth/40% in-person) and enrolment in TMs (81.8%; 55.0%); 91.8% completed the follow-up. Using an intention-to-treat approach, the intervention group showed significantly greater reductions in severe peer aggression (p<0.05), anxiety (p<0.05) and substance use consequences (p<0.05) relative to the comparison group. Participant and staff feedback were positive and identified challenges to long-term implementation, such as lack of availability of reimbursement for youth violence prevention.

Conclusions: If these challenges could be addressed, routine provision of behavioural health services for violence prevention in PC could have high impact on health outcomes for adolescents.