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Multigroup Propensity Score Approach to Evaluating an Effectiveness Trial of the New Beginnings Program

Jenn-Yun Tein, Gina L Mazza, Heather J Gunn, Hanjoe Kim, Elizabeth A Stuart, Irwin N Sandler, Sharlene A Wolchik
Evaluation & the Health Professions 2018, 41 (2): 290-320
We used a multigroup propensity score approach to evaluate a randomized effectiveness trial of the New Beginnings Program (NBP), an intervention targeting divorced or separated families. Two features of effectiveness trials, high nonattendance rates and inclusion of an active control, make program effects harder to detect. To estimate program effects based on actual intervention participation, we created a synthetic inactive control comprised of nonattenders and assessed the impact of attending the NBP or active control relative to no intervention (inactive control). We estimated propensity scores using generalized boosted models and applied inverse probability of treatment weighting for the comparisons. Relative to the inactive control, NBP strengthened parenting quality as well as reduced child exposure to interparental conflict, parent psychological distress, and child internalizing problems. Some effects were moderated by parent gender, parent ethnicity, or child age. On the other hand, the effects of active versus inactive control were minimal for parenting and in the unexpected direction for child internalizing problems. Findings from the propensity score approach complement and enhance the interpretation of findings from the intention-to-treat approach.


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