Preventing alcohol misuse in children and young people
News release from NETSCC, Public Health Research
22 May 2012
Two studies funded by the NIHR Public Health Research (PHR) programme are investigating the most effective ways of preventing alcohol misuse in children and young people.
Young people (particularly 15 year olds) in the UK have one of the highest rates of alcohol misuse in Europe. This has an impact on health, with many people likely to be harmed physically and mentally; and many young people are likely to have problems with alcohol when they are older.
The first study, led by Dr Jeremy Segrott of Cardiff University, will develop the Kids, Adult Together (KAT) programme which will bring families together to learn about and discuss the effects of alcohol. The programme is aimed at school pupils age 9 to 11. The pupils will undertake work in the classroom, a family education evening will be held and an educational DVD and hand-out will be given to families to discuss.
Eight schools in South Wales will be recruited to the trial; four will run the KAT programme and four will act as a control group. Communication within the family will be assessed at the beginning and at six months.
"This research will explore the role of communication within the family in the prevention of alcohol misuse amongst young people," says Dr Segrott, who is based at the Centre for the Development and Evaluation of Complex Interventions for Public Health Improvement (DECIPHer). "We hope that the results from this trial will help to inform a larger scale study, which could change the way in which we prevent the growing problem of alcohol misuse amongst young people." View details of the project.
The second study, led by Dr Dorothy Newbury-Birch of Newcastle University, will target the 14-15 year old age group to see whether drinking behaviour improves following alcohol screening and brief intervention, involving two advice sessions, one of which will include parents. Seven schools will be recruited in North East England; two schools will use the intervention with young people only, three will additionally involve parents and two will act as a control group.
The researchers will collect information on behaviour and the use of services, school performance and school attendance. Changes in these will be measured at six and 12 months and the links between behaviour and alcohol use will be assessed.
"This study offers the opportunity to improve young people's health by evaluating whether alcohol screening and brief intervention can be used to help improve drinking behaviour," commented Dr Newbury-Birch. "The results of the study will hopefully lead to a bigger trial which will enable us to evaluate the interventions on a larger scale." View details of the project