Reuters Health (12.28.11) - Tuesday, January 17, 2012
Interventions that successfully prevent drug use and risky
sexual behavior among youths target multiple areas of their
lives and often span years, a recent study found.
"To have multiple effects, you can't just have one hour a day
for a few weeks and that's it. It's just like learning math or
reading - you have to keep going over multiple years," said
Brian Flay, of Oregon State University-Corvallis, whose study
was among those analyzed in the systematic review. Programs
should involve "not just the school, but also getting the
parents involved and targeting them," he said. "And even with
the school, targeting the whole school climate and not just
Of the 13 studies, three showed positive effects on at least
one measure of drug use and one of risky sexual behavior.
These were a Chicago-based social development curriculum with
parent support; a Baltimore HIV reduction program involving
small groups and parent monitoring; and a Seattle elementary
school program teaching school and family bonding skills.
All three interventions targeted African-American, low-income
or high-crime communities, and their participants rated better
than a comparison group on drug use, heavy drinking, smoking,
condom use, and pregnancy. The researchers wrote that programs
targeting multiple domains (individual and peer, family,
school, and community) of risk and protective factors for risk
behavior were generally more effective than those targeting
just one domain.
Starting school and community interventions even earlier, in
the preteen years, may be most effective in preventing these
risks before they start, suggested study leader Caroline
Jackson, of the Scottish Collaboration for Public Health
Research and Policy in Edinburgh, and colleagues. However,
"further research is needed to determine the effectiveness of
this approach," they concluded.
The full study, "Interventions to Prevent Substance Use and
Risky Sexual Behavior in Young People: A Systematic Review,"
was published in Addiction (2011;doi:10.1111/j.1360-