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Study: evidence-based programs likely to be more successful in preventing substance use by children

(Embargoed) CHAPEL HILL Scientifically designed substance abuse prevention programs based on research showing what works and what doesnt are likely to be much more effective in keeping children off tobacco, alcohol and drugs than other programs not based on such evidence, a new study suggests.

In part, thats because teachers using such programs tend to have been recently trained in teaching them and work at schools where staffers have a positive attitude about making a difference, researchers say.

The national study, conducted at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill and the Pacific Institute for Research and Evaluation (PIRE), involved analyzing how teachers and schools discourage substance use among middle-school students.

Investigators developed research-based standards for both content and delivery practices because earlier studies showed both elements were central to the effectiveness of prevention programs, said Dr. Susan T. Ennett, associate professor of health behavior and health education at the UNC School of Public Health. They then sent detailed questionnaires to a random sample of 1,905 middle school teachers to find out which programs they used in the classroom and how they implemented them.

We found that about a quarter of the teachers were employing evidence-based programs as opposed to off-the-shelf curricula that had not necessarily been evaluated or proven effective, Ennett said. We also found that fewer than a third of the teachers met the standards we created. Although that percentage was low, it was two-thirds higher than for those teachers not using an evidence-based curriculum, and thats good news.

The UNC researchers were scheduled to present the findings in Seattle Saturday (June 1) at the annual meeting of the Society for Prevention Research. Principal investigator for the study was Dr. Christopher Ringwalt of PIRE in Chapel Hill.

Both school and teacher characteristics were signif
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Contact: David Williamson
david_williamson@unc.edu
919-962-8596
University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill
2-Jun-2002


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