Preventing Adult Mental Health Problems from Early Childhood in the Contexts of Genetic Susceptibility, Poverty, Racism, and the COVID-19 Pandemic

This longitudinal study began when participants were age two.They are now in their early twenties. Investigators continue to assess participants' health as they transition to young adulthood.

Continuing this longitudinal study, investigators are assessing participants at ages 22 and 24, including a clinical diagnostic interview of depression, anxiety, and psychosis. Following this emerging adult sample provides unique data on the persistence of intervention effects on mental health during the transition to adulthood in the context of a pandemic.

The Early Steps Multisite (ESM) sample was recruited at Women, Infant, and Children (WIC) centers in three geographically, socioeconomically, and racially/ethnically diverse communities: Eugene, OR; Pittsburgh, PA; and Charlottesville, VA. Participating families were randomly assigned to receive the Family Check-Up (FCU)* intervention annually from child age 2 to 10.5, or to participate in study assessments without intervention. Assessments continued at child ages 14, 16, and 19, including two pandemic-related surveys focused on mental health, and participant genotyping.

Collaborators include researchers at the University of Pittsburgh, University of Virginia, and Arizona State University.

*The Family Check-Up program (FCU) was developed by Dr. Thomas Dishion, a distinguished prevention scientist who was affiliated with the University of Oregon, ORI, and Arizona State University. FCU targets at-risk families with young children and teaches parenting skills that improve the interactions between parents and children. These simple parenting skills have wide-ranging effects and protect children against substance abuse and a range of mental health problems years later in life.


1/1/23 - 11/30/27


National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH)