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KIT-Plus research project: Strengthening pastoral care to reduce secondary students’ harm from tobacco

The aim of the KIT-Plus Research Project was to implement and evaluate the effectiveness of a systematic pastoral care intervention designed to encourage and facilitate positive behaviour in students, particularly with regards to reducing smoking and other drug use, which was delivered by trained secondary school staff identified by students as very approachable.

The KIT-Plus Research Project was a partnership between the CHPRC and the School Drug Education and Road Aware (SDERA) located within the Department of Education, WA. The Keeping in Touch (KIT) resource, initially developed by SDERA and subsequently distributed nationally by the Australian Government Department of Education, Employment and Workplace Relations assists school staff to manage and respond to drug use issues in their school. The KIT-Plus Research Project built on this existing resource by providing additional support to assist schools to build positive connections between students and staff and to help staff prevent and respond to drug issues at school. The intervention was underpinned by research showing that in addition to parental figures, other significant adults such as teachers and pastoral care staff can play an important role in reducing and preventing students’ drug use through supporting the adoption of drug harm reduction attitudes and behaviours. The project aimed to enhance the skills of school staff, increase students’ connectedness to school staff and school and ultimately to decrease students’ harm from smoking and other drug use.

The KIT-Plus Research Project was a three-year randomised control trial conducted in 21 Western Australian secondary schools (including 9 country schools). The KIT-Plus program comprised four key stages:

  1. Year 9 students were asked to anonymously identify ‘approachable’ school staff. Identified staff were invited to a two-day KIT-Plus training session;
  2. At the KIT-Plus training session, participants were informed of general drug use issues and how they may impact on young people, trained in communication methods to help students in need of support, introduced to models and frameworks designed to support students through brief interventions, and introduced to a school plan that implements KIT-Plus strategies by individual staff, in school guidelines, and with community partnerships;
  3. At one-month and two-months post-training intervals, training attendees were provided with one-on-one coaching sessions to encourage their use of the KIT-Plus strategies. A third coaching session was made available via an online reflection survey; and
  4. Collegial support among the trained, school-based team was fostered in training and coaching sessions.

Data were collected from an initial cohort of 637 Year 9 students from the study schools (baseline and two post test surveys and one-on-one interviews) and 64 staff from the intervention schools (pre and post implementation surveys and 12 month logs of interactions with students about drug-related issues).

Both CHPRC and SDERA have used the findings of the KIT-Plus research project to strengthen existing programs delivered to schools to promote the health and wellbeing of young people.

For further information about this project please contact Ms Tommy Cordin at t.cordin@ecu.edu.au.

Project duration

2008-2010

Funding body

Healthway


Researchers

Associate Professor Marg Hall
Ms Felicity Stephens
Dr Robyn Johnston
School Drug Education and Road Aware, WA, Mr Bruno Faletti
 

Child Health Promotion Research Centre
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