Event Title

Participation in Community-Based Structured Adult Mentoring Programs: Do Boys and Girls Experience Similar Health and Social Benefits?

Start Date

16-10-2009 9:00 AM

End Date

16-10-2009 10:30 AM

Description

Background: Structured adult mentoring programs have been identified as an effective community-based strategy for promoting the healthy development of children growing up in disadvantaged families. One largely unexplored area of research concerns the extent to which child gender moderates the relationship between exposure to a structured mentoring program and positive health outcomes.

Objectives: To establish if girls matched with an adult mentor in Big Brothers Big Sisters (BBBS) community match programs fair better (or worse) than matched boys in terms of improved behavioral, mental health, and psychosocial outcomes.

Method: Structural equation and latent growth curve analyses will be conducted on a sample of approximately 500 matched and unmatched children enrolled in 20 BBBS programs across Canada followed longitudinally for 18 months. The sample is a subset of an ongoing study involving 950 families (children and parents) enrolled in BBBS programs followed for 30 months. Child and parent reports of child outcomes are obtained at 6 month intervals through a combination of face to face interviews and self-administered assessments.

Results: Adjusting for baseline scores (prior to match exposure), preliminary SEM results at the 12 month follow-up suggest that matched girls experience more favorable outcomes than matched boys in terms of fewer conduct, emotional, and in-school behavioral problems, and less frequent verbal and physical abuse by bullies. In contrast, boys are more likely than girls to report positive attitudes toward school.

Future Directions: Future work will seek to replicate these findings as greater numbers of children are paired with a mentor and mature in their match relationships. Particular attention will focus on the extent to which length of time in the match relationship deflects various trajectories of child developmental outcomes and the potential moderating role of child gender.

David De Wit, Ph.D., is Senior Research Scientist with the Centre for Addiction and Mental Health located in London, Ontario and an Associate Professor in the Department of Epidemiology and Biostatistics at the University of Western Ontario. He is also an Associate Scientist with the Lawson Health Research Institute (also in London). His primary research interests include the evaluation of community interventions for vulnerable populations, environmental influences on child health and well-being, and risk and protective factors for child and youth mental health problems and substance addiction. He has led or co-led a number of grant-funded projects including a five year study funded by the National Institutes of Health to evaluate the effectiveness of a family skills-based intervention for children of parents struggling with alcohol problems. He recently received funding from the Canadian Institutes of Health Research (De Wit, P.I., $1.7 million) to study the impact of Big Brother Big Sister community match relationships across Canada on the health and well-being of children in need of an adult mentor. Throughout his career he has published in several scientific journals and delivered numerous presentations to the scientific and lay communities. He recently completed a five year term on the Editorial Board for the Journal of Marriage and the Family and currently serves as a grant reviewer for the Child Health Committee, Canadian Institutes of Health Research. He has given a number of guest lectures to students in both undergraduate and graduate level courses primarily dealing with statistical techniques for handling missing values and techniques for analyzing longitudinal data. He currently supervises one Masters level student and one Ph.D. student.

This document is currently not available here.


Share

COinS
 
Oct 16th, 9:00 AM Oct 16th, 10:30 AM

Participation in Community-Based Structured Adult Mentoring Programs: Do Boys and Girls Experience Similar Health and Social Benefits?

Background: Structured adult mentoring programs have been identified as an effective community-based strategy for promoting the healthy development of children growing up in disadvantaged families. One largely unexplored area of research concerns the extent to which child gender moderates the relationship between exposure to a structured mentoring program and positive health outcomes.

Objectives: To establish if girls matched with an adult mentor in Big Brothers Big Sisters (BBBS) community match programs fair better (or worse) than matched boys in terms of improved behavioral, mental health, and psychosocial outcomes.

Method: Structural equation and latent growth curve analyses will be conducted on a sample of approximately 500 matched and unmatched children enrolled in 20 BBBS programs across Canada followed longitudinally for 18 months. The sample is a subset of an ongoing study involving 950 families (children and parents) enrolled in BBBS programs followed for 30 months. Child and parent reports of child outcomes are obtained at 6 month intervals through a combination of face to face interviews and self-administered assessments.

Results: Adjusting for baseline scores (prior to match exposure), preliminary SEM results at the 12 month follow-up suggest that matched girls experience more favorable outcomes than matched boys in terms of fewer conduct, emotional, and in-school behavioral problems, and less frequent verbal and physical abuse by bullies. In contrast, boys are more likely than girls to report positive attitudes toward school.

Future Directions: Future work will seek to replicate these findings as greater numbers of children are paired with a mentor and mature in their match relationships. Particular attention will focus on the extent to which length of time in the match relationship deflects various trajectories of child developmental outcomes and the potential moderating role of child gender.

David De Wit, Ph.D., is Senior Research Scientist with the Centre for Addiction and Mental Health located in London, Ontario and an Associate Professor in the Department of Epidemiology and Biostatistics at the University of Western Ontario. He is also an Associate Scientist with the Lawson Health Research Institute (also in London). His primary research interests include the evaluation of community interventions for vulnerable populations, environmental influences on child health and well-being, and risk and protective factors for child and youth mental health problems and substance addiction. He has led or co-led a number of grant-funded projects including a five year study funded by the National Institutes of Health to evaluate the effectiveness of a family skills-based intervention for children of parents struggling with alcohol problems. He recently received funding from the Canadian Institutes of Health Research (De Wit, P.I., $1.7 million) to study the impact of Big Brother Big Sister community match relationships across Canada on the health and well-being of children in need of an adult mentor. Throughout his career he has published in several scientific journals and delivered numerous presentations to the scientific and lay communities. He recently completed a five year term on the Editorial Board for the Journal of Marriage and the Family and currently serves as a grant reviewer for the Child Health Committee, Canadian Institutes of Health Research. He has given a number of guest lectures to students in both undergraduate and graduate level courses primarily dealing with statistical techniques for handling missing values and techniques for analyzing longitudinal data. He currently supervises one Masters level student and one Ph.D. student.