The Community Shadow Project

Family Intervention of Youth AOD in Indian Communities
September 1999–March 2010
Principal Investigator: Dr. Alison Boyd-Ball
Co-Investigators: Dr. Kate Kavanagh, Dr. Tom Dishion
Funded by: National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism, National Institutes of Health

The Community Shadow Project studied the benefits of engaging American Indian families and their adolescent youth in a family-based intervention (EcoFIT) developed by Dishion and colleagues (Dishion & Kavanagh, 2003; Dishion & Stormshak, 2007). The project focused on tribal-specific, culturally sensitive family engagement strategies; established resource centers in tribal mental health centers; implemented EcoFIT within the tribes’ behavioral health programs; and evaluated the benefits of the intervention.

The research program adapted, developed, and tested community-based intervention services that are appropriate for the culture, resources, and needs of three AI communities in the Pacific Northwest.

The project used a multiple baseline design that enabled the research team to specifically tailor a menu of family interventions to the strengths and uniqueness of each of the three communities and to collaborate with community members to develop a family-centered intervention infrastructure, the family resource center. The team worked with tribal consultants and focus groups drawn from each tribe to ensure cultural appropriateness of intervention strategies and methods, as well as respect for tribal traditions and patterns of values and attitudes.

The research team continued the work of the previous Shadow Project, which focused on the adaptation of the Adolescent Transitions Program (ATP; Dishion & Kavanagh, 2003) to the AI community, and has worked with a treatment facility to develop clinical experience, a database of the needs of AI adolescents and families with a history of AOD use, and culturally sensitive measurement and research protocols to examine the effectiveness of the ATP adaptation.

This study was based on a pilot project (Shadow Project) funded by NIAAA during which 60 American Indian (AI) adolescents involved in residential treatment for alcohol and drug problems were provided with additional family-centered support. Dr. Tom Dishion was PI and Dr. Alison Boyd-Ball was co-PI for this project.


2010–2011: The project officially ended in April 2011 following final assessments, intervention, and 1-year follow-up and exit interviews with 99 youths and their families at Research Site 3. Preliminary analyses revealed no overall significant intervention effect. However, the role of parental monitoring practices and contagion of peer substance use appeared to be proximal correlates of early-onset substance use, and community monitoring accounted for unique variance in peer problem behavior. Components of the family management measures will continue to be examined, as will contextual factors of trauma, stress, and depression and their role in changes in family management practices and youth behaviors.

2009: At Research Site 2, project staff completed the intervention phase with participants, gathered participant school records, and completed data collection. staff also began preparing to close out the family resource center and all other operations based at Research Site 2, which was initially opened in 2007. at Research Site 3, project staff initiated and completed recruitment of participants, initiated data collection, initiated the intervention phase of the project, and established and opened a family resurce center.

2008: A family resource center (FRC) was in full operation at Tribal Sites 1 and 2. The Community Shadow Project team completed the first wave of assessments, the family intervention, and a year-long follow-up at Site 1. An exit interview was planned for December 2008 with 92 youth and 54 caregivers. The team used the information gained there to shape an engagement strategy for Tribal Site 2, where The Shadow Project team has completed the first wave of assessments with 90 youth and 53 caregivers. An FRC was established and the family intervention phase is underway. The research team was in the startup phase with Tribal Site 3, and tribal-specific, culturally sensitive family engagement strategies were developed and implemented through the use of focus groups consisting of parents and tribal service providers. Assessments and analyses continued at Sites 1 and 2 to further evaluate the benefit of family-centered intervention in American Indian communities.