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Estimating Mediated Effects In Prevention Studies

David P. Mackinnon, James H. Dwyer

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The purpose of this article is to describe statistical procedures to assess how prevention and intervention programs achieve their effects. The analyses require the measurement of intervening or mediating variables hypothesized to represent the causal mechanism by which the prevention program achieves its effects. Methods to estimate mediation are illustrated in the evaluation of a health promotion program designed to reduce dietary cholesterol and a school-based drug prevention program. The methods are relatively easy to apply and the information gained from such analyses should add to our understanding of prevention.