Pittsburgh Youth Study

The Pittsburgh Youth Study consists of three cohorts of boys who were in the first, fourth, and seventh grades when the study began in 1987-1988 (called the youngest, middle, and oldest cohorts, respectively).  The staff of the Board of Public Education provided names and addresses of all eligible first, fourth, and seventh grade boys in participating schools in 1987-1988.  From this pool, there were 1,165 (1st grade), 1,146 (4th grade) and 1,125 (7th grade) children randomly selected for potential participation in the screening. Follow-up data were collected on a subset of screening boys.  This follow-up sample was selected using a screening risk score that measured each boy’s antisocial behavior using parent, teacher, and self-report instruments.  Within each grade-based cohort, boys identified at the top 30% on the screening risk measure (n ≈ 250), as well as an equal number of boys randomly selected from the remainder (n ≈ 250), were selected for follow-up.  The racial/ethnic composition of the youngest (Caucasian = 40.56%, African-American = 55.67%, Hispanic = 0.20%, Asian = 0.99%, Native American = 0.20%, mixed ethnicity = 2.39%), middle (Caucasian = 42.72%, African-American = 52.36%, Hispanic = 0.19%, Asian = 0.79%, mixed ethnicity = 3.94%), and oldest (Caucasian = 41.70%, African-American = 55.55%, Hispanic = 0.20%, Asian = 0.40%, mixed ethnicity = 3.16%) cohorts was also similar to the screening sample. 

Funding for the Pittsburgh Youth Study (PYS) has come from the Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention (OJJDP), the National Institute of Mental Health, the National Institute on Drug Abuse, National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism, the Pennsylvania Commonwealth, and the Pew Charitable Trusts.

Project Goals

  1. Document the development of antisocial and delinquent behavior from childhood to early adulthood, the risk factors that impinge on that development, and help seeking and service provision of boys' behavior problems.
  2. Focus on boys' development of alcohol and drug use, and internalizing problems.

Assessments were conducted semiannually and then annually using multiple informants (i.e., boys, parents, teachers). The youngest cohort was assessed from ages 6-19 and again at ages 25 and 28.  The middle cohort was assessed from ages 9-13 and again at age 23.  The oldest cohort was assessed from ages 13-25, with an additional assessment at age 35.  Information has been collected on a broad range of risk and protective factors across multiple domains (e.g., individual, family, peer, school, neighborhood).  Measures of conduct problems, substance use/abuse, criminal behavior, mental health problems have been collected.  Participant retention has historically been high (mean=91%), with 82% of living men completing the most recent interview conducted in 2010.

For more information, please contact: Dustin Pardini, Ph.D.