Preventive Alcohol Education Program

OVERVIEW

The Preventive Alcohol Education Program was designed to reduce alcohol use and abuse among adolescents. The Program operated by providing high school students with the knowledge and skills to understand and, in turn, refuse peer pressures concerning drinking. The intervention was implemented in school over a brief period of time and targeted ninth graders. The Preventive Alcohol Education Program has been evaluated to assess the effects up to three years after program completion. Results are quite promising in the short-term. It appears that the program's impact is not sustainable in the long-term, however, the long-term analyses are undermined by sample loss.

DESCRIPTION OF PROGRAM

Target population: Ninth grade students The Preventive Alcohol Education Program was designed in 1981 based on McGuire's Theory of Attitude Inoculation. This theory contends that if people, in this case high school students, can be made aware of potential threats or attacks, such as drinking pressures, they will be better able to combat them. The Program utilizes components of inoculation theory to forewarn high school students about alcohol and pro-alcohol persuasion and thus prevent them from engaging in risky drinking behaviors. To achieve this goal, the Program relies on a four-stage model. The first stage provides students with knowledge and information concerning the effects of alcohol. It also teaches adolescents about various types of peer pressure and persuasive techniques that may be used to advocate drinking and drinking-related behaviors. In the second stage, students practice refuting potential scenarios. Stage three provides students with instructor feedback on students' newly acquired skills. Finally, in stage four, students receive booster activities to reinforce the Program. Examples of program "boosters" include school posters or school-wide activities that promote lessons learned.

The Program is implemented in school classrooms and runs for six days. Sessions are held for approximately one hour a day and are taught by classroom teachers. Prior to implementation, teachers receive one day of training. Each of the four stages outlined above involves some variation of films, question and answer sessions, slide shows, role-playing and teacher assessments/feedback.

EVALUATION(S) OF PROGRAM

Study 1: Duryea, E., Mohr, P., Newman, I.M., Martin, G.L., & Egwaoje, E. (1984). Six-month follow-up results of a preventive alcohol education intervention. Journal of Drug Education, 14(2), 97-104.

Evaluated population: 9th grade students in a parochial school in Nebraska. All ninth grade students (n=155) at a parochial school were initially selected to participate in the evaluation.

Approach: The evaluation was conducted one week after program completion, and again six months later. Students were randomly assigned to one of four conditions: two experimental groups and two control groups.

Students were evaluated using written questionnaires to assess the following: knowledge on the effects of alcohol; ability to refute pro-drinking arguments; tendency to comply with pressures; attitudes toward drinking and driving; frequency of self-reported drinking; frequency of self-reported riding with drunk drivers.

Results:One week after program completion, students in the experimental group reported significantly more knowledge on alcohol effects, better ability to refute pro-drinking pressures, and lower rates of compliance when compared to the control group (p<.01). Experimental group students were also less likely to report riding in cars with drunk drivers (p<.01). No significant differences were found between the control and experimental groups on measures of attitudes toward drinking or on the frequency of self-reported drinking.

At the six-month evaluation, analyses were completed for those students with available pre-test and post-test data (n=83). Attrition, school absences, and student transfers were responsible for the smaller sample size. The remaining 37 experimental group students and 46 control group students were evaluated on measures of knowledge, refutation, and compliance. Students received a mean knowledge score based on their responses to seven multiple-choice questions. Students in the experimental group had a significantly higher mean knowledge score than those in the control group (p<.0001). Furthermore, the mean knowledge score within the experimental group increased significantly from pre-test to the six-month follow-up (p<.0001). The control group did not experience significant gains.

The refutation measure was derived by evaluating students' written ability to contest nine pro-drinking arguments. Two independent raters evaluated and scored each of the students' nine arguments, resulting in 18 total scores per student. Researchers averaged the raters' scores within arguments to provide each student with nine argument scores. Finally, the nine scores were averaged to produce a summary refutation score used in analyses. Analyses revealed that the experimental group had a significantly higher mean refutation score at six months, when compared to the control group (p<.0005). Although the average refutation score for the control group decreased from pre-test to six months, the average score for the experimental group was found to increase significantly during the same time period (p<.0001).

Compliance scores were derived by averaging students' responses to four hypothetical drinking scenarios. Again, the experimental group continued to score significantly better than the control group. The experimental group mean compliance score was found to increase significantly from pre-test to six months (p<.05), while the control group's score actually decreased significantly (p<.0005).

One limitation to the evaluation is that the assessments are based on hypothetical scenarios and may not be representative of students' behavior in actual situations.

Study 2: Duryea, E.J, & Okwumabua, J.O. (1988). Effects of a preventive alcohol education program after three years. Journal of Drug Education, 18(1), 23-31.

Evaluated population: Students who were in 9th grade in a parochial school in Nebraska at the time of the intervention. Originally, all ninth grade students (n=155) at a parochial school were initially selected to participate in the evaluation. One hundred and thirty students in the original sample were evaluated (n=91 experimental; n=39 control) for the follow-up.

Approach: This evaluation took place three years after the intervention, when the students were in 11th grade. Students completed anonymous questionnaires that assessed the frequency of riding with drunk drivers; frequency of drinking; frequency of drinking "too much"; and two cognitive measures that evaluated students' perceptions regarding alcohol tolerance.

Results: On average, the three-year evaluation revealed low levels of risk behaviors among all students. Unexpectedly, control group students reported that they were less likely to drink "too much" when compared to the experimental group (p=.05). All other measures were nonsignificant suggesting that short-term impact of the program was not sustained over time. However, the low follow-up rate for students in the control group relative to the experimental group undermined the certainty of these findings.

SOURCES FOR MORE INFORMATION

References

Duryea, E., Mohr, P., Newman, I.M., Martin, G.L., & Egwaoje, E. (1984). Six-month follow-up results of a preventive alcohol education intervention. Journal of Drug Education, 14(2), 97-104.

Duryea, E.J, & Okwumabua, J.O. (1988). Effects of a preventive alcohol education program after three years. Journal of Drug Education, 18(1), 23-31.

Program also discussed in the following Child Trends publication(s):

KEYWORDS: High School, Adolescence (12-17), School-based, Social and Emotional Health and Development, Substance Use, Alcohol Use, Education, Skills Training, Drinking and Driving.

Program information last updated 5/7/2006.