This is a copy of the presentation made by A/Prof Tim Slade at the 2014 NDARC Annual Research Symposium.
Issues: Early initiation of substance use is associated with a range of negative consequences. Although school-based prevention programs exist, their efficacy is contentious and no programs prevent substance use in both high- and low-risk adolescents. Our proposed model addresses this gap by developing an integrated approach to prevention which combines the effective ‘universal’ Climate Schools and ‘selective’ personality-targeted Preventure programs. The program is known as the CAP (Climate and Preventure) intervention.
Approach: To examine the efficacy of the CAP intervention, a cluster RCT is currently being conducted in 27 Australian schools. 2608 students aged 13-14 years were invited to participate in the trial and schools were randomised to one of four conditions; the ‘Control’ condition, the ‘Climate’ condition, the ‘Preventure’ condition, or the ‘CAP’ condition. Students were assessed at baseline, post intervention (79% follow-up rate), 12 months post baseline (86% follow-up rate) and 24 months post baseline (81%) on the uptake and harmful use of alcohol and other drugs, substance use related harms, and mental health symptomatology.
Key findings: At baseline assessment 10.3% have had at least one standard drink of alcohol with 5.0% having consumed five or more standard drinks on at least one occasion. Preliminary findings demonstrate that the Climate and CAP interventions both result in increased knowledge about alcohol, when compared to the Control intervention. Analyses are currently being carried out to unpack these findings and determine whether there are differential intervention effects for high- and low-risk adolescents.
Implications and Conclusion: If the CAP intervention can reduce alcohol and drug use by levels equal or greater than that of the stand-alone programs, it will be a significant contribution to health promotion and to reducing the burden of disease, social costs, and disability associated with substance abuse in Australia.