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School Program Selects At-Risk Kids for Alcohol Prevention

Personality-targeted approach seems effective during two years, with evidence of herd effect

THURSDAY, Jan. 24 (HealthDay News) -- A selective school-based alcohol prevention program that targets youth with personality risk factors is effective over two years, according to a study published online Jan. 24 in JAMA Psychiatry.

Patricia J. Conrod, Ph.D., of the University of Montreal, and colleagues reported the 24-month outcomes of the Teacher-Delivered Personality-Targeted Interventions for Substance Misuse Trial, in which teachers provided interventions to students with one of four high-risk profiles. Participants included 1,210 high-risk and 1,433 low-risk students in ninth grade in schools in London, in the United Kingdom. Schools were randomized to provide the brief intervention to high-risk students, or to provide the usual treatment of statutory drug education in class.

Based on two-part latent growth models, the researchers found that the intervention had long-term significant effects on high-risk youth in reducing drinking and binge drinking rates and growth in binge and problem drinking. During the 24-month follow-up, the intervention was also beneficial for high-risk youth in terms of reducing drinking quantity and growth in binge drinking frequency. In low-risk youth, herd effects were noted in reducing drinking rates and growth of binge drinking during follow-up.

"Findings further support the personality-targeted approach to alcohol prevention and its effectiveness when provided by trained school staff," the authors write. "Particularly novel are the findings of some mild herd effects that result from this selective prevention program."

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