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Open Access Publications from the University of California

Feasibility and Reliability of a Coding System to Capture In-Session Group Behavior in Adolescents

  • Author(s): Ladd, BO
  • Tomlinson, K
  • Myers, MG
  • Anderson, KG
  • et al.

© 2015, Society for Prevention Research. Limited research has explored the role of in-session behavior during motivational enhancement (ME) in group formats. The current study presents initial feasibility of assessing behavior of high school students (N = 425) attending Project Options, a voluntary secondary drug and alcohol prevention program utilizing ME techniques. Building on previous research exploring client language supporting/opposing health behavior, student group behavior was coded live at the specific utterance and global level; group leader behavior was also coded globally. Interrater reliability of the coding system was assessed, and preliminary validity of the coding system was examined by exploring associations between characteristics of group members and in-session group behavior. Initial reliability estimates were excellent for the specific behavior codes. Reliability of the global codes was mixed, with raters demonstrating good reliability on support for unhealthy behavior, opposition to unhealthy behavior, and support for healthy behavior. Reliability of the group leader codes was fair to poor. Greater percent healthy talk was associated with a lower percentage of group members reporting lifetime alcohol use. The results of the current study suggest that some in-session behavior at the group level can be coded reliably via live observation and that in-session behavior at the group level is associated with alcohol use prior to attending the program. Future research is needed to explore the utility of in-session behavior in terms of predicting future behavior at the group and individual level.

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