JOURNAL ARTICLE

Prevention of alcohol misuse among children, youths and young adults

Dieter Korczak, Gerlinde Steinhauser, Markus Dietl
GMS Health Technology Assessment 2011, 7: Doc04
21808659

BACKGROUND: Despite many activities to prevent risky alcohol consumption among adolescents and young adults there is an increase of alcohol intoxications in the group of ten to twenty year old juveniles.

OBJECTIVES: This report gives an overview about the recent literature as well as the German federal prevention system regarding activities concerning behavioral and policy prevention of risky alcohol consumption among children, adolescents and young adults. Furthermore, effective components of prevention activities are identified and the efficiency and efficacy of ongoing prevention programs is evaluated.

METHODS: A systematic literature review is done in 34 databases using Bool'sche combinations of the key words alcohol, prevention, treatment, children, adolescents and young adults.

RESULTS: 401 studies were found and 59 studies were selected for the health technology assessment (HTA). Most of the studies are done in USA, nine in Germany. A family strengthening program, personalized computer based intervention at schools, colleges and universities, brief motivational interventions and policy elements like increase of prices and taxes proved effective.

DISCUSSION: Among the 59 studies there are three meta-analyses, 15 reviews, 17 randomized controlled trials (RCT) and 18 cohort studies. Despite the overall high quality of the study design, many of them have methodological weaknesses (missing randomization, missing or too short follow-ups, not clearly defined measurement parameters). The transferability of US-results to the German context is problematic. Only a few prevention activities reach a sustainable reduction of frequency and/or amount of alcohol consumption.

CONCLUSION: The HTA-report shows the need to develop specific and target group focused prevention activities for the German situation. Essential for that is the definition of target goals (reduction of consumption, change of behaviour) as well as the definition and empirical validation of risky alcohol consumption. The efficacy of prevention activities should be proven before they are launched. At present activities for the reduction or prevention of risky alcohol consumption are not sufficiently evaluated in Germany concerning their sustainable efficacy.

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