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Preventing alcohol harm: Early results from a cluster randomised, controlled trial in Victoria, Australia of comprehensive harm minimisation school drug education

Midford, Richard, Mitchell, Johanna, Lester, Leanne, Cahill, Helen, Foxcroft, David, Ramsden, Robyn, Venning, Lynne and Pose, Michelle (2013). Preventing alcohol harm: Early results from a cluster randomised, controlled trial in Victoria, Australia of comprehensive harm minimisation school drug education. International Journal of Drug Policy,25(1):142-150.

Document type: Journal Article
Citation counts: Altmetric Score Altmetric Score is 12
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IRMA ID 84279116xPUB114
Title Preventing alcohol harm: Early results from a cluster randomised, controlled trial in Victoria, Australia of comprehensive harm minimisation school drug education
Author Midford, Richard
Mitchell, Johanna
Lester, Leanne
Cahill, Helen
Foxcroft, David
Ramsden, Robyn
Venning, Lynne
Pose, Michelle
Journal Name International Journal of Drug Policy
Publication Date 2013
Volume Number 25
Issue Number 1
ISSN 0955-3959   (check CDU catalogue open catalogue search in new window)
Scopus ID 2-s2.0-84892998591
Start Page 142
End Page 150
Total Pages 9
Place of Publication Netherlands
Publisher Elsevier BV
HERDC Category C1 - Journal Article (DIISR)
Abstract Background
In Australia, the burden of alcohol-attributable harm falls most heavily on young people. Prevention is important, and schools have long been seen as appropriate settings for pre-emptive interventions with this high risk group. This paper evaluates the effectiveness, in relation to alcohol harm prevention, of the Drug Education in Victorian Schools (DEVS) programme, nine months after implementation. This intervention dealt with both licit and illicit drugs, employed a harm minimisation approach that incorporated interactive, skill based, teaching methods and capitalised on parental influence through home activities.

Methods

A cluster randomised, controlled trial of the first ten lessons of the DEVS drug education programme was conducted with year eight students, aged 13–14 years. Twenty-one secondary schools in Victoria, Australia were randomly allocated to receive the DEVS programme (14 schools, n = 1163) or the drug education usually provided by their schools (7 schools, n = 589). Self-reported changes were measured in relation to: knowledge and attitudes, communication with parents, drug education lessons remembered, proportion of drinkers, alcohol consumption (quantity multiplied by frequency), proportion of student drinkers engaging in risky consumption, and the number of harms experienced as a result of alcohol consumption.

Results

In comparison to the controls, there was a significantly greater increase in the intervention students’ knowledge about drugs, including alcohol (p ≤ 0.001); there was a significant change in their level of communication with parents about alcohol (p = 0.037); they recalled receiving significantly more alcohol education (p < 0.001); their alcohol consumption increased significantly less (p = 0.011); and they experienced a lesser increase in harms associated with their drinking (p ≤ 0.001). There were no significant differences between the two study groups in relation to changes in attitudes towards alcohol or in the proportion of drinkers or risky drinkers. There was, however, a notable trend of less consumption by risky drinkers in the intervention group.

Conclusions

A comprehensive, harm minimisation focused school drug education programme is effective in increasing general drug knowledge, and reducing alcohol consumption and harm.
Keywords Alcohol
Schools
Students
Education
Prevention
Controlled trial
Australia
Harm minimisation
DOI http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.drugpo.2013.05.012   (check subscription with CDU E-Gateway service for CDU Staff and Students  check subscription with CDU E-Gateway in new window)
 
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