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Preventing Behavior Problems Among Elementary Schoolchildren: Impact of a Universal School-Based Program in China


  • This research was supported by Key Project for Clinical Faculty Foundation, Ministry of Health, China (2004-468), Ministry of Science and Technology, China (2004BA720A20), Project of Science and Technology, Beijing (Y0204003040831), and the National Institutes of Health, US (P50 CA84735).

    We are grateful for the support of the school that participated in this research, and particularly appreciate the hard work and dedication of the teachers and many staff members who helped implement this project. We are indebted to the children and families who willingly served as study subjects. We also express our appreciation to Professor Myron L. Belfer from Harvard University who made significant contributions to the editing of this article.

Wang Yufeng, Professor, (, Institute of Mental Health, Peking University (Peking University Sixth Hospital), 51 Huayuan Beilu, Haidian Qu, Beijing, China, 100191.


BACKGROUND: To evaluate the effect on problem behaviors of a universal school-based prevention curriculum of third grade students.

METHODS: Six regular classes in 1 elementary school were randomly assigned to an intervention (n = 208) or control (n = 209) group. A 13-session program was offered to students in the intervention group. The Achenbach Child Behavior Checklist (CBCL), parent report, was used to assess problem behaviors at baseline, at the conclusion of the curriculum, and again at 6-month follow up.

RESULTS: The unadjusted mean estimates of behavioral problems were significantly lower in the intervention group posttest (at the conclusion of the curriculum), −3.53 (95% confidence interval [CI] = −6.59 to −0.48; p = .023) and at the 6-month follow up, −5.22 (95% CI: −8.27 to −2.16; p = .001). After adjusting for potential confounders, gender (female), father's educational status (high school), family relationships (good and average), and child's age in months, intervention groups (intervention posttest and intervention after 6-month follow up) showed significantly lower total behavioral scores.

CONCLUSIONS: A universal school-based prevention program for Chinese elementary school-age children resulted in a significant positive change in behavioral problems. This is an important finding in the context of the Chinese 1-child policy that places great value on the achievement of the child.