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Prevention of Alcohol Use in Older Teens

Prevention of Alcohol Use in Older Teens

The growing incidence of alcohol use among teens is an important public health problem. In a recent publication in Psychology of Addictive Behaviors, Klein Buendel Senior Scientists, Dr. David Buller and Dr. Gill Woodall, joined multiple co-authors to report on the effects of a new alcohol use prevention program for older teenagers. The program is called Smart Choices 4 Teens. The paper reports the results from a randomized controlled trial assessing the impact of this online, interactive, family-based alcohol prevention program with over 400 families on preventing and reducing teen alcohol use.

Smart Choices 4 Teens was designed with three sequential components: general parent-teen communication, teen alcohol use, and teen romantic relationships. The creators adapted two evidence-based programs — Family Matter (1) and Parent Handbook (2) — to appeal to older teens and their parents. Communication skills training was incorporated through videos and interactive activities. The program was designed to have parents and teens go through the online activities separately and then complete a discussion activity together at the end of each component. The Alcohol Component is the focus of this publication.

Use of the program varied across families and components. Families that used more of the program reported better outcomes. Data related to dosage of the program and changes in drinking rates are reported in detail in the paper. Many positive effects were seen at 6-month and 12-month follow-ups with participating families. For example, teens in the experimental group reported fewer friends who had been drunk at six months, and parents in the experimental group reported more communication about social host laws. At 12 months, parents in the experimental group reported consuming fewer alcoholic beverages.

Overall, the findings suggest that Smart Choices 4 Teens was beneficial for families, especially when parents and teens completed more of the program. The authors believe that dissemination and implementation strategies that motivate completion of Smart Choice 4 Teens content, especially the Alcohol Component, can improve outcomes related to older teens’ alcohol use.

A full description of the methods, results, and conclusions of this study can be found in Psychology of Addictive Behaviors. This research was funded by a grant to the Prevention Research Center at the Pacific Institute for Research and Evaluation from the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism (AA020977; Brenda Miller, Principal Investigator). Authors in addition to Dr. Miller, Dr. Buller, and Dr. Woodall include first author Dr. Hilary Byrnes, Dr. Joel Grube, Dr. Beth Bourdeau, and Dr. Meme Wang-Schweig from the Pacific Institute for Research and Evaluation. The Smart Choices 4 Teens program was produced by Klein Buendel’s Creative Team.

References

  1. Bauman, K. E., Foshee, V. A., Ennett, S. T., Hicks, K., & Pemberton, M. (2001). Family Matters: A family-directed program designed to prevent adolescent tobacco and alcohol use. Health Promotion Practice, 2, 81-96. http://dx.doi.org/10.1177/152483990100200112
  2. Turrisi, R., Jaccard, J., Taki, R., Dunnam, H., & Grimes, J. (2001). Examination of the short-term efficacy of a parent intervention to reduce college student drinking tendencies. Psychology of Addictive Behaviors, 15, 366–372. http://dx.doi.org/10.1037/0893-164X.15.4.366
B-SMART Study Launches at KB

B-SMART Study Launches at KB

Klein Buendel (KB) Senior Scientist, Dr. Gill Woodall, is the Principal Investigator leading a new research project aimed at reducing intoxicated driving by people with court-ordered ignition interlock devices (IIDs) through improved communication and support from family members.

Driving while intoxicated (DWI) remains a substantial and preventable source of morbidity and mortality in the U.S. The IID, which requires a driver to blow into a breathalyzer unit installed in an automobile to establish sobriety, reduces drunk driving while installed. However, research has shown that once IIDs are removed from DWI offenders’ cars, DWI recidivism levels return to those comparable to offenders who did not have an IID installed.

This new project will fully develop and evaluate B-SMART — smartphone technology to teach coping skills, communication skills, and strategies to help deter DWI. Unique to this intervention are the involvement of family members in supporting the DWI offender to not drink and drive, English and Spanish language options, and the use of smartphone technology to make that support immediate, accessible, and diffusible. The core content of the intervention is based on empirically-validated couples therapy curriculum developed by Dr. Barbara McCrady from the University of New Mexico. It will be adapted for concerned DWI offender family members and delivered through a convenient smartphone web app platform. Programming and usability testing will be done by KB designers and developers.

Results of a Phase I feasibility study of an initial module of B-SMART presented at the Research Society on Alcoholism by Dr. Woodall in 2016, showed very positive reactions by users. Thirty-two concerned family members of DWI offenders browsed the communication skills module of B-SMART and then rated the module on the System Usability Scale (SUS – Bangor, et al., 2011). Results indicated an average SUS rating of 44.2 (sd=4.78, scale range: 10-50), with 87% of participants rating the B-SMART module 40 or above. These results indicate that users found the prototype B-SMART module easy to use, informative, and very positive.

For the new Phase II evaluation, a randomized efficacy trial will be conducted with DWI offenders and their concerned family members recruited through the New Mexico court system. The research is funded by the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism (R44AA022850) through the Small Business Innovation Research Program. Dr. Woodall’s scientific collaborators include Ms. Julia Berteletti from KB, Dr. Barbara McCrady and Dr. Vern Westerberg from the University of New Mexico, and Dr. Gary Cutter from Pythagorus, Inc. in Alabama.