This study will investigate the first online alcohol and substance use prevention program targeted at both students and their parents. Students will receive the Climate Schools substance use modules during their health classes, while their parents will be asked to view webinars, rank rules and access their own modules and summaries in line with the student program content. The attitudes and behaviours of students and parents towards alcohol and cannabis will be assessed over three years, to investigate the influence of the Climate Schools Plus program on these outcomes.
Dr Ina Koning
Utrecht University, The Netherlands
Parents are key agents of adolescent socialisation, especially in the initiation and development of substance use and parenting interventions have been identified as critical components of effective substance use prevention programs. Despite this, there is currently no Australian substance use prevention program that targets both students and parents, and no integrated model internationally that adopts an online delivery approach to overcome barriers to implementation and sustainability. Therefore, the current study will evaluate a novel approach to adolescent substance use prevention.
The aim of this project is to evaluate the efficacy of Climate Schools Plus (CSP), a novel online program for parents and students to prevent adolescent substance use and related harms. CSP combines an effective student program, the Climate Schools: Alcohol and Cannabis course with a new parent program recently developed by our team.
The investigators will determine the effectiveness of the CSP by running a cluster randomised controlled trial in approximately 12 schools. Schools will be randomly allocated to either the ‘Climate Schools Plus’ condition (CSP) or the ‘Control’ condition.
The student component of the CSP condition consists of the Climate Schools: Alcohol and Alcohol & Cannabis courses (i.e., online lessons to be delivered during class time at school). Students receive six lessons in Year 8 covering alcohol, and six lessons in Year 9 covering alcohol and cannabis).
The parent component of the CSP condition consists of 2 webinars (approximately 5 minutes each, at the beginning of Years 8 and 9), which provide overviews of alcohol and cannabis use and harms in adolescents, and highlight the role parents play in preventing substance use. Parents in the same year group will also be invited to rank rules related to alcohol use and will have access to six brief online modules (under 10 minutes each, four in Year 8 and two in Year 9). Parents will also be emailed weekly summaries of student lessons for the duration of the student component.
Students in the control condition will receive school health education as usual.
Participating schools commenced the study in 2018. Data collection is ongoing until the conclusion of the study in 2020.
Parents and students will be asked to complete 3 surveys (a baseline survey in 2018, a follow-up in 2019 and a final survey in 2020), indicating their attitudes and behaviours towards alcohol and substance use.
Teachers, parents and students in the intervention condition will also be asked to complete 2 additional evaluation surveys, in which, they are asked to provide feedback on the Climate Schools Plus program itself.
This evidence-based intervention has the potential to provide a sustainable and scalable improvement to the well-being of young Australians, and to reduce the substantial costs associated with substance use.