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Month: September 2019

Responsible Marijuana Vendor Training

Responsible Marijuana Vendor Training

Dr. David Buller, Klein Buendel Senior Scientist and Director of Research, presented recent work by his research team at the Tenth European Society for Prevention Research (EUSPR) Conference and Members’ Meeting in Ghent, Belgium in September. His presentation, “Effects of an Online Responsible Vendor Training for Recreational Cannabis Stores on Sales to Pseudo-intoxicated Customers: Need for Increased Deterrence,” was coauthored by Dr. Gill Woodall, Mr. Andrew Grayson, Ms. Sierra Svendsen, and Ms. Mary Buller from Klein Buendel; and Dr. Robert Saltz from the Pacific Institute for Research and Evaluation.

The advent of recreational cannabis in Canada, Uruguay, and several U.S. states raises the risk of polysubstance-impaired driving. In alcohol markets, training in responsible sales practices is an intervention to reduce sales to intoxicated patrons and thus prevent impaired driving and other harms. Similar training may benefit communities with recreational cannabis sales.

An online responsible marijuana vendor (RMV) training, Train To Tend, was developed with input from state regulators and store personnel. Among its five modules, learning elements taught store personnel to recognize signs of alcohol impairment and intoxication, refuse sales, and understand the risks of driving under the influence of cannabis. A sample of 150 recreational cannabis stores in Colorado, Oregon, and Washington State, USA were enrolled in a randomized controlled trial, half of which were randomly assigned to use the RMV training. Stores were posttested using a pseudo-intoxicated patron (PiP) protocol in which confederate buyers feigned obvious signs of intoxication.

Sales of cannabis to PiPs were refused at only 16 of 144 stores across the three states. There was no difference in refusal rates between intervention and control stores or between stores that used the RMV training or not. In 11 visits, store personnel commented on the buyers’ behavior or expressed concern/suspicion about buyers but sold to them anyway.

Training in responsible sales practices alone did not appear to reduce sales to intoxicated customers. Legal deterrence from making these sales may be insufficient or nonexistent for store management to support adherence to this responsible sales practice. Regulatory actions (such as swift, severe, and certain penalties) may be needed to increase perceived risk with such sales  to achieve training’s benefits.

This research was sponsored by a grant from the National Institute on Drug Abuse at the National Institutes of Health (DA038933; Dr. David Buller, Principal Investigator). Train To Tend was programmed by the Creative Team at Klein Buendel.

Dr. David Buller presenting the RMV training program
Smart Choices 4 Teens

Smart Choices 4 Teens

Three Klein Buendel researchers were part of a team that gave two presentations at the Tenth European Society for Prevention Research (EUSPR) Conference and Members’ Meeting in Ghent, Belgium in September. Dr. David Buller, Dr. W. Gill Woodall, and Ms. Julia Berteletti were part of the Smart Choices 4 Teens research team led by Dr. Brenda Miller from the Prevention Research Center at the Pacific Institute for Research and Evaluation (PIRE).

Smart Choices 4 Teens is an online, interactive, family-based program for parents and older teens designed to reduce teen alcohol use and risky sexual behaviors. The program features three sequential components (parent-teen communication, teen alcohol prevention, and teen romantic relationships) that parents and teens complete separately before working together through a discussion activity at the end of each component. A randomized controlled trial with 411 families found significantly better outcomes for teens in the experimental condition as compared to controls in terms of decreased alcohol use and decreased sexual risk behaviors.

Oral Presentation

Dr. Brenda Miller’s presentation focused on the design of the Smart Choices 4 Teens alcohol prevention component. This module targeted eleven topics: (1) the decision to drink or not drink, (2) social host laws, (3) physical effects of alcohol, (4) signs of alcohol poisoning, (5) social consequences of alcohol, (6) an interactive Blood Alcohol Calculator, (7) myths about alcohol, (8) creating a safety plan for parties, (9) parental influences, (10) refusal skills, and (11) defining a drinking problem. The module incorporated four different activity formats — video narratives, info-gadgets, interactive activities, and structured discussions. Parents and teens engaged in the same materials but did so separately, coming together to choose and discuss hypothetical scenarios that guided the discussion offline. A “nudge” feature was embedded to allow teens to prompt their parent to finish a module and move to the end-of-module offline discussion or vice versa. The nudge feature was used 561 times by 218 users.

Dr. Miller reported that 86% of experimental families began the intervention and 50% of families completed the teen alcohol prevention component. The average time needed to complete the alcohol component was 16 minutes. Parents and teens reported learning new lessons and becoming more comfortable discussing alcohol use together. Barriers to completion included limited understanding of some content and needing additional instructions.

Poster Presentation

Dr. David Buller presented a poster, with analysis led by Dr. W. Gill Woodall, on the effect of teen engagement with Smart Choices 4 Teens. Teens and parents (411 dyads) completed an online baseline survey prior to being assigned to either the intervention or control conditions. Follow-up online surveys were completed 6, 12, and 18 months later. The teen sample was 55% female and 72% non-Hispanic White. The parent sample was comprised predominately of mothers (84.7%).

The Smart Choices 4 Teens website tracked duration of time spent using each of the web-based components. In an analysis of teens who completed the program in the intervention group (n=142), linear regressions tested duration of teens’ time in each online component in the entire program as predictors of teens’ past 30-day alcohol use at the 6-month follow-up. More time spent by teens using interactive activities negatively predicted later alcohol use, as did teens’ time spent viewing videos. Also, teens’ time spent using info-gadget activities had a negative relationship with alcohol use.

The researchers report that activities with interactivity, animations, and video content may produce stronger preventive effects on alcohol use because teens prefer this format over written text in the info-gadgets, have more involvement with them, and/or find characters relatable. These reactions may stimulate deep processing of prevention content.

The Smart Choices 4 Teens research was supported by a grant from the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism (AA020977; Dr. Brenda Miller, PIRE, Principal Investigator). Other authors on Dr. Miller’s research team included Dr. Hilary Byrnes, Ms. Veronica Rogers, and Dr. Joel Grube from PIRE; Dr. Beth Bourdeau from the University of California San Francisco; and Dr. David Buller, Dr. W. Gill Woodall, and Ms. Julia Berteletti from Klein Buendel. Smart Choices 4 Teens was programmed by the Creative Team at Klein Buendel.

Dr. Brenda Miller viewing Smart Choices 4 Teens
Project STRONG Expands into Spanish

Project STRONG Expands into Spanish

Ms. Julia Berteletti, Klein Buendel Research Program Manager, is a Co-Investigator on a new research project aimed at teaching adolescent boys, with their parents, skills on regulating their emotions and how to communicate their feelings.

Emotional regulation is the ability to successfully understand and express one’s emotions (1). The large empirical literature links violent behavior and adolescents who lack this ability. Furthermore, numerous studies show that parental involvement is crucial to offsetting dating violence risk (2).

Northeastern University, in collaboration with Klein Buendel, conducted a pilot study which was funded by the National Institute of Justice and titled “Partner Violence Prevention for Middle School Boys: A Dyadic Web-Based Intervention” (2014-MU-CX-4002). The aim of the study was to develop a web-based intervention to reduce the risk of dating violence among middle-school aged males. The engaging web program was used by parents and adolescents together, with both the parent and the child choosing an avatar, playing games together, and being prompted to discuss the content.

Results showed that families generally found the program helpful and useful (3). Adolescents randomized to the STRONG condition were less likely to report dating violence perpetration events and victimization events when compared to the control group (3). Additionally, adolescents in the STRONG condition reported an increase in a number of emotional regulation measures compared to control participants (3).

The new Project STRONG R01 study will be conducted in a larger randomized controlled trial titled “Project STRONG: A Web-Based Dating Violence Prevention Program for Parents and Middle School Boys”. The web-based program will be translated and developed in Spanish and will be tested for its ability to reduce the risk of dating violence among both English- and Spanish-speaking middle-school aged males. Again, parents and their sons will complete the program together.

The research is funded by the Eunice Kennedy Shriver National Institute of Child Health and Human Development at the National Institutes of Health (HD097126; Dr. Chris Houck and Dr. Christine Rizzo, Principal Investigators). Ms. Berteletti will be collaborating with Dr. Chris Houck of Rhode Island Hospital and Dr. Christine Rizzo of Brown University.


1. Houck CD, Hadley W, Barker D, Brown LK, Hancock E, Almy B. An emotion regulation intervention to reduce risk behaviors among at-risk early adolescents. Prev Sci. 2016;17(1):71-82. doi: 10.1007/s11121-015-0597-0
2. Lundgren R, Amin A. Addressing intimate partner violence and sexual violence among adolescents: emerging evidence of effectiveness. J Adolesc Health. 2015;56(1 Suppl):S42-S50. doi: 10.1016/j.jadohealth.2014.08.012
3. National Criminal Justice Reference Service; Rizzo CJ, Houck C. Summary Report: Partner Violence Prevention for Middle-School Boys: A Dyadic Web-Based Intervention Study (Project STRONG). Available at: Published January 2019. Accessed August 21, 2019.

The Grow, Eat, Thrive School Gardening Curriculum is Now Free

The Grow, Eat, Thrive School Gardening Curriculum is Now Free

September is National Childhood Obesity Month because increasing awareness about how to prevent overweight and obesity children is a public health priority. To help with the effort, Klein Buendel is making its Grow, Eat, Thrive elementary school curriculum available to teachers for free online. Grow, Eat, Thrive pairs nutrition and physical activity education with container gardening for children in grades Kindergarten through 5. It teaches students about the benefits of eating fruits and vegetables and engaging in daily exercise for overall good health.

Grow, Eat, Thrive can stand alone or complement a teacher’s existing lesson plans. While completing lessons, students plant their own container or outdoor garden, care for it, and harvest what they have grown. This hands-on approach provides students with a sense of where fresh produce comes from, an appreciation for healthy foods and daily activity, and a connection to making healthy life choices. The lessons are age and grade level appropriate, and relate to a variety of content standards for easy implementation.

The evidence-based curriculum was created and tested by Klein Buendel with students at six Colorado elementary schools and was found to increase knowledge of a healthy diet in all grades. In younger grades, the curriculum improved attitudes toward a healthy diet and increased intake of healthier foods.

“As obesity rates continue to rise, education that addresses nutrition and physical activity in elementary schools is essential,” said Ms. Mary Buller, one of the curriculum collaborators from Klein Buendel. “Grow, Eat, Thrive helps makes that education easy and fun for everyone.”

Grow, Eat, Thrive was created with a grant from the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA 2005-33610-16469; Ms. Lee Stiffler-Myer, Principal Investigator). To access the free lesson plans, visit the Grow, Eat, Thrive website.