This research seeks to address the gap in early intervention research for cannabis use by developing and evaluating a school-based early intervention targeting young people suspended from school for a cannabis-related issue.
Dr Sally Nathan
School of Public Health and Community Medicine, UNSW
Early initiation of cannabis use can have detrimental effects on adolescent development and contributes to a range of physical, psychological, and social problems which can persist into adulthood. Recently, schools have expressed increasing concern about the rate and level of cannabis use among students. Despite being well suited environments for intervention, they critically lack evidenced-based tools to deal with this issue effectively. This research aims to address this gap by developing and evaluating an intervention for adolescent cannabis users and their parents delivered at the opportune time when a student is involved in a school initiated cannabis-related disciplinary issue; an event which is seen as a ‘window of opportunity’ to motivate and strengthen student and parent engagement.
- Develop a novel school-based early intervention for students facing a disciplinary sanction for a cannabis issue or otherwise identified with early or problematic cannabis use, their families, and schools.
- Conduct initial pilot testing of the early intervention to determine its potential impact on adolescent cannabis use and cannabis-related problems.
- Evaluate the feasibility of this approach and investigate the factors that may facilitate and/or inhibit effective implementation, delivery, and outcomes in order to inform future implementation and replication.
The study will employ a mixed-methods approach, using qualitative and quantitative strategies for data collection and analyses. Following development of the early intervention, a pilot feasibility study to assess the program’s implementation, acceptability, and potential impact will be initially conducted in a small number of schools. The findings from the feasibility study will be used to improve the program and the implementation strategy for delivery to a larger number of schools in a cluster randomised control trial (RCT) to further explore the effectiveness of the program.
Ethics approval has been received and focus groups with key informant groups are underway to inform the development of the early intervention.
This research will contribute to early intervention research to help better equip schools, and families to address cannabis use issues, reduce cannabis use and related harms, and improve outcomes for young people.