Effects of Positive Action on the Emotional Health of Urban Youth: A Cluster-Randomized Trial
Purpose: We examined the effects of Positive Action (PA), a school-based social-emotional learning and health promotion program, on the emotional health of predominately low-income and ethnic minority urban youth.
Methods: The study was a matched-pair, cluster-randomized controlled trial involving 14 Chicago public schools. Outcomes were assessed over a 6-year period of program implementation for a cohort of youth in each school, followed from grades 3 to 8.
Results: Students in PA schools, compared with those in control schools, had more favorable change over the course of the study in positive affect (standardized mean difference effect size [ES] ¼ .17) and life satisfaction (ES ¼ .13) as well as significantly lower depression (ES ¼ -.14) and anxiety (ES ¼ -.26) at study end point. Program effects for positive affect, depression, and anxiety were mediated by more favorable change over time in social-emotional and character development for students in PA schools.