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Antisocial behaviour: does a preventative intervention reduce cortisol levels in response to a social challenge?

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Laurie Miller Brotman

Correspondence to: Laurie Miller Brotman, NYU Child Study Centre, New York University School of Medicine, 215 Lexington Avenue, New York, NY 10016, USA;



Does an intervention to prevent antisocial behaviour also alter cortisol levels in response to a social challenge?


Seventy preschool children (aged 2–5 years) with risk factors for psychiatric disorders (maternal depression, poverty, poor birth environment or other parental issues). Participants were identified from court records of their adjudicated siblings, who had previously participated in an RCT of a preventative intervention for antisocial behaviour. Exclusions: developmental disorder or mental retardation, or caregiver with DSM-IV substance abuse or psychiatric disorder. 64% of caregivers were African American and 28% Latino.


New York (location and study dates not given).


Parent/child group sessions and home visits over 22 weeks, aimed at improving parenting practices and child’s social performance (control condition not described). During parent group sessions, the focus was on encouraging parents …

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  • Notes: This RCT was primarily designed to investigate the effects of an intervention for at-risk children, there are no comparisons of cortisol levels for low risk children. Unsupervised home cortisol measurements by caregivers may not have been standard across all participants and could have introduced error.

  • Source of funding: National Institute of Mental Health.


  • Competing interests: None declared.