Early results from a school alcohol harm minimization study: the School Health and Alcohol Harm Reduction Project

N McBride, R Midford, F Farringdon, M Phillips
Addiction 2000, 95 (7): 1021-42

AIMS: The School Health and Alcohol Harm Reduction Project aims to reduce alcohol-related harm by enhancing students' abilities to identify and deal with high-risk drinking situations particularly likely to be encountered by young people.

DESIGN: The SHAHRP study has adopted a quasi-experimental research design, incorporating intervention and control groups and measuring change over a 3-year period.

SETTING: The study is set in metropolitan, government secondary schools (13-17-year-olds) in Perth, Western Australia. The 14 schools involved in the SHAHRP study represent approximately 23% of government secondary schools in the Perth metropolitan area.

PARTICIPANTS: The sample was selected using cluster sampling, with stratification by socio-economic area, and involves over 2300 intervention and control students from junior secondary schools. Seventy-three per cent (73.7%) of students completed surveys at both baseline and first follow-up.

INTERVENTION: The intervention incorporated evidence-based approaches to enhance potential for behaviour change in the target population. The intervention is a curriculum-based programmeme with an explicit harm minimization goal and will be conducted in two phases over a 2-year period. MEASURES AND FINDINGS: The early results of the study demonstrate initial knowledge and attitude change, predicted by the students' involvement in the intervention. A surprising impact of the first phase of SHAHRP was the significant difference in alcohol consumption and harms between control and intervention groups, with the SHAHRP group demonstrating a significantly lower increase in alcohol consumption than the control group. Students who were supervised drinkers at baseline and who received the SHAHRP intervention were overwhelmingly represented in the change results.

CONCLUSIONS: Results from phase one of the SHAHRP study suggest that classroom-based alcohol education programmemes can reduce harm, particularly in students who are supervised drinkers prior to the intervention.

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