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Home > Alcohol education for Australian schools: What are the most effective programs?

Lee, Nicole and Cameron, Jacqui and Battams, Samantha and Roche, Ann (2014) Alcohol education for Australian schools: What are the most effective programs? Adelaide: National Centre for Education and Training on Addiction.

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A scientific approach to understanding what works and what does not, by using the best available evidence, can lead to policy and implementation decisions that are more effective in achieving desired outcomes.

A systematic review was undertaken to assist schools to effectively utilise the evidence in order to decide on appropriate school alcohol education programs. A systematic review is a method of assessing whether a program is effective or not by collating all the research on a specific question and looking at the whole body of evidence together. Within each program type, the available studies were examined in detail by two researchers and assessed for both the quality of the research and the outcomes for students.

Three programs, CLIMATE Schools (Australia), Project ALERT (USA) and All Stars (USA) had enough evidence to support their general use in schools. Four programs showed some evidence of good outcomes and may be suitable for use by some schools where those outcomes are high priority (Life Skills Program, SHAHRP, Unplugged EU-DAP, and Life Skills Training) especially if outcomes are monitored within the school. One program showed no evidence of positive effect (DARE) and two showed negative outcomes (such as increases in drinking) (Peer Acceleration Social Network (Project TND) and Take Charge of Your Life) and are not recommended for use in Australian schools. The remaining 29 programs showed inconclusive results (i.e. those with poor quality research, inconsistent effects, or only one available study) and are also not recommended for schools until further research is conducted.

Common elements of effective programs included: accurate evidence based information about alcohol; a focus on social norms; an interactive presentation style; clear, achievable and measureable goals and objectives; teacher training and support; and a whole of school approach.


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