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Coping Power Program

Program Goals

The Coping Power Program (CPP) is a cognitive-based intervention delivered to aggressive children and their parents during the children’s transition to middle school. The program aims to increase competence, study skills, social skills, and self-control in aggressive children as well as to improve parental involvement in their child’s education.

Target Population and Program Components

The program has a component aimed at the parents of children in intervention classrooms. The child component of CPP lasts 16 months and includes 22 fifth grade sessions and 12 sixth grade sessions. The parent component is administered over 16 sessions, which provides the parents with instruction on parenting skills, including rule setting, appropriate punishment, stress management, and family communication.

The parent component concentrates on parenting and stress-management skills, while the child component involves the use of school-based focus groups and emphasizes anger management and social problem–solving skills. Parents also meet with CPP staff to help them understand and prepare for future adolescence-related and general education issues, and to give them the tools necessary for a smooth transition to middle school.

Program Theory

The Coping Power Program is a multicomponent intervention based heavily on cognitive–behavioral therapy, which emphasizes increasing and exercising parenting skills and the child’s social skills. The child component of CPP draws from anger management programs that concentrate on decision-making, attributions, and peer pressure.

Intervention ID: 
8 to 13

Study 1

The Lochman and Wells 2003 study evaluated the effectiveness of the Coping Power Program (CPP) among aggressive children identified in the fourth grade, with the intervention taking place in the fifth and sixth grades. This study examined results at the 1-year follow-up looking in particular at delinquency, substance use, and school behavior outcomes. After the researchers identified moderate- to high-risk aggressive children and received parental consent, 245 children were randomized into intervention and control conditions. The children were spread out through 60 fifth grade classrooms in 17 elementary schools. There were four randomized groups with 59 subjects in the Coping Power–only condition, 61 in the Coping Power and classroom intervention condition, 62 in the classroom-only condition, and 63 subjects in the control condition. There were no significant differences among the groups in terms of aggressive behavior, demographic factors, or teacher-assessed cognitive functioning. The sample had a 2-to-1 boy-to-girl ratio and was predominantly African American (about 75 percent) and white. The classroom intervention, known as Coping With the Middle School Transitions, includes a teacher component in which they meet with Coping Power staff members for five 2-hour sessions. These sessions were used to discuss problem solving around the issue of aggression and to present the CPP format.

The delinquency outcomes were assessed with child self-report surveys based on questions from the National Youth Survey. The substance abuse outcomes were also measured with child self-report, while aggressive behavior in a school setting was measured using the Teacher Observation of Classroom Adaptation—Revised. Results collected at the 1-year follow-up were tested with analysis of variance (aka ANOVA) and analysis of covariance (or ANCOVA), using generalized linear models.

Study 2

Lochman and Wells (2004) reported the results of their 15-month evaluation of the CPP. In winter 1997, baseline assessment took place of fourth and fifth grade boys with treatment delivered in the spring and during the following academic year. The final sample had two experimental conditions: a CPP with parent intervention (n=60) and CPP for children only (n=60). There were 63 children in the control group. In addition to these three groups of aggressive children, a normative sample of 63 children was also used. The child component consisted of 8 sessions in the first year and 25 in the second year, with each session lasting between 40 and 60 minutes. The parent component consisted of 16 group sessions over the intervention period. There were no significant differences among the three at-risk groups. The total sample was made up of 55 percent fourth graders and 45 percent fifth graders and was 61 percent African American and 28 percent white.

Child measures were taken 1 year after the intervention, while parent measures were taken 6 months postintervention. The National Youth Survey (NYS) provided outcome measures for delinquency, which were separated into overt (minor assault, felony assault, robbery) and covert (minor theft, felony theft, fraud, destruction of property). The NYS also provided the outcomes for the child self-report of substance use. Additionally a parent report of the child’s substance use was used, as well as a teacher assessment of the child’s behavioral improvement. Results were tested with either ANOVAs, ANCOVAs, or multiple analysis of covariance (MANOVAs), using the generalized linear model.

Study 3

The Zonnevylle–Bender and colleagues (2007) study examined the effects of the CPP program on children with disruptive behavior disorder in the city of Utrecht in the Netherlands. Children were randomized to the treatment and care as usual control group. Children were recruited from psychiatric outpatient clinics over a period of 3 years. To be eligible for inclusion in the study, they had to be between 8 and 13 years old. They additionally had to be living within a family structure, meet an IQ threshold, and have been diagnosed with disruptive behavior disorder. Final sample sizes for participants in the study were 30 in the treatment group and 31 in the control group. There were no significant baseline differences between groups. All subjects were white; 87 percent of the treatment group and 90 percent of the control group were male. At the beginning of the study, the average age of the treatment group was 9.9 years; it was 10.3 years for the control group. The CPP treatment never lasted more than 9 months; it included 23 weekly sessions with children and 25 parent sessions.

Measures were taken 5 years after treatment began. Substance use was assessed using a self-report instrument adapted from the California Student Survey, while delinquency was assessed using the National Youth Survey questionnaire. The authors used one-factor ANOVAs to test results from delinquency self-report, while the substance use measures were tested with Pearson’s chi-squared analyses.


The Coping Power Program (CPP) was initially developed in the United States; the studies reporting outcome effects after one year (studies 1 and 2) both showed promising, although sometimes inconsistent, effects particularly in study 2. However, an evaluation 5 years after the beginning of the intervention in the Netherlands (study 3) showed no effects, although the study did include a smaller sample size. While the preponderance of evidence suggests promising outcomes, there were some inconsistent findings, which should be considered prior to implementation.

Study 1


Lochman and Wells (2003) found that the CPP groups had significantly lower scores of self-reported delinquency when compared with the control condition.

Substance Use

Overall the treatment group had significantly lower self-reported substance use than the control group. In particular the authors note that older and moderate-risk children in the treatment group report significantly lower substance use than the control group. However, there was no significant difference between younger high-risk treatment children and the control group.

School Behavior

The treatment group significantly improved their aggressive behavior in school scores as reported by the teacher compared with the control group. This result was seen across treatment conditions.

Study 2


Lochman and Wells (2004) found that there were no significant differences between the experimental and control groups on measures of overt delinquency (minor assault, felony assault, robbery). However, the experimental group had significant lower covert delinquency (minor theft, felony theft, fraud, destruction of property) than the control group.

Substance Use

The boys in the experimental group had significantly lower substance use scores than the control group on the parent measure scale. Using the child self-report measure, however, there were no significant differences.

School Behavior

The experimental group had significantly better teacher ratings of aggressive behavior than the control group.

Study 3


Zonnevylle–Bender and colleagues (2007) found that there were no significant differences between treatment and control groups on the delinquency scale.

Marijuana Use

The treatment group had significantly lower lifetime use of marijuana, compared with the control group, with 13 percent of the treatment group and 35 percent of the control group reporting having lifetime marijuana use. However, there were no significant differences between groups on usage within the last month.

Alcohol Use

There were no significant differences between treatment and control groups in lifetime or past-month alcohol use.

Cigarette Use

The treatment group had significantly lower use of cigarettes in the last month, compared with the control group, with 17 percent of the treatment and 42 percent of the control group reporting cigarette smoking in the last month. There were, however, no significant differences on lifetime use of cigarettes.