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J Consult Clin Psychol. 1991 Feb;59(1):38-47.

Using growth modeling to examine systematic differences in growth: an example of change in the functioning of families at risk of maladaptive parenting, child abuse, or neglect.

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  • 1Graduate School of Education, Harvard University, Cambridge, Massachusetts 02138.


This longitudinal study provides an example of the use of exploratory growth modeling to examine changes over time in the functioning of 172 families who underwent treatment in an innovative prevention program, Project Good Start. Two types of research question are addressed: a within-family question (Does family functioning change over time in families at risk of maltreatment who are receiving special early support services?) and a between-family question (Are changes in family functioning systematically related to selected characteristics of family background and treatment?). Results of the study highlight the heterogeneity across families in the direction and rate of family function change and its systematic relationship with the family profile on entry into intervention. Although treatment seems successful in stabilizing and improving the family functioning of most at-risk families, problems of violence/maltreatment and distressed parenting act to defer successful treatment.

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