Baseline Targeted Moderation in a Trial of the Family Check-Up 4 Health: Potential Explanations for Finding Few Practical Effects

Justin D. Smith*, Allison J. Carroll, Emily Fu, Cady Berkel

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

5 Scopus citations


Not all participants will benefit equally from even well-established, evidence-based prevention programs. For this reason, the field of prevention science is beginning to embrace individual tailoring of interventions. The Family Check-Up was among the first prevention programs to tailor at the family level as opposed to the more prevalent focus on adapting programs for different cultures, genders, and other immutable participant characteristics. Despite tailoring, families with lower levels of stress and parental mental health issues, children with lower baseline conduct problems, and families living in an extremely deprived neighborhood benefitted less from the Family Check-Up. This study examined baseline targeted moderation (BTM) within a trial of the Family Check-Up 4 Health (FCU4Health) program, an adaptation of the Family Check-Up for primary care delivery and explicit targeting of obesogenic behaviors. Ethnically diverse, low-income families (N = 240) with children ages 5.5 to 12 years identified in pediatric primary care with elevated body mass index (BMI) were enrolled and randomized to FCU4Health or usual care. Few BTM effects were found using single-variable-as-moderator and latent-class-as-moderator analytic approaches across the primary (child BMI, body composition) and secondary outcomes (family health routines; child eating behaviors, food choices, emotional problems, problem behaviors, quality of life; caregiver BMI and body composition), as well as hypothesized mediators (child self-regulation, parenting skills). The high-risk nature of the sample and the FCU4Health being individually tailored might have mitigated finding BTM effects. This trial was prospectively registered (NCT03013309

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)226-236
Number of pages11
JournalPrevention Science
Issue number2
StatePublished - Feb 2023


  • Baseline targeted moderation
  • Family Check-up 4 Health
  • Hybrid effectiveness-implementation design
  • Pediatric obesity
  • Primary care

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Public Health, Environmental and Occupational Health


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