Effects of the Dating Matters® comprehensive prevention model on health- and delinquency-related risk behaviors in middle school youth: A cluster-randomized controlled trial

Lianne Fuino Estefan*, Alana M. Vivolo-Kantor, Phyllis Holditch Niolon, Vi D. Le, Allison J. Tracy, Todd D. Little, Sarah DeGue, Natasha E. Latzman, Andra Tharp, Kyle M. Lang, Wendy LiKamWa McIntosh

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleScientificpeer-review

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Teen dating violence (TDV) is associated with a variety of delinquent behaviors, such as theft, and health- and delinquency-related risk behaviors, including alcohol use, substance abuse, and weapon carrying. These behaviors may co-occur due to shared risk factors. Thus, comprehensive TDV-focused prevention programs may also impact these other risk behaviors. This study examined the effectiveness of CDC's Dating Matters (R): Strategies to Promote Healthy Teen Relationships (Dating Matters) comprehensive TDV prevention model compared to a standard-of-care condition on health- and delinquency-related risk behaviors among middle school students. Students (N = 3301; 53% female; 50% black, non-Hispanic; and 31% Hispanic) in 46 middle schools in four sites across the USA were surveyed twice yearly in 6th, 7th, and 8th grades. A structural equation modeling framework with multiple imputation to account for missing data was utilized. On average over time, students receiving Dating Matters scored 9% lower on a measure of weapon carrying, 9% lower on a measure of alcohol and substance abuse, and 8% lower on a measure of delinquency by the end of middle school than students receiving an evidence-based standard-of-care TDV prevention program. Dating Matters demonstrated protective effects for most groups of students through the end of middle school. These results suggest that this comprehensive model is successful at preventing risk behaviors associated with TDV. clinicaltrials.gov Identifier: NCT01672541

Original languageEnglish
Number of pages12
JournalPrevention Science
Publication statusE-pub ahead of print - 2020


  • Teen dating violence
  • Dating matters
  • Prevention
  • Substance use
  • Weapon
  • Delinquency

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