This research was conducted on behalf of the School Drug Education Project and aimed to investigate the effectiveness of school drug education and the feasibility of a range of options to evaluate the impact of the SDEP on students’ drug use.
Despite a large body of literature reporting school-based education interventions, relatively few intervention trials have significantly reduced students’ drug use over an extended period. Although initially successful in reducing drug use, the impact has often decayed after the completion of the program. The aim of the phase one evaluation was to provide information relevant to the School Drug Education Project regarding effective school drug education and to explore the feasibility of a range of options to evaluate the impact of the School Drug Education Project on students’ drug use.
A number of recommendations come from this research. As an alternative to a prospective design, a series of dose-response analyses using existing Western Australian data sets was proposed. This consisted of using process measures for implementation (‘dose’) of the SDEP to compare with student outcomes (‘response’). If the SDEP has been effective, students who received more of the Project’s components should have lower drug use, lower drug-related harm and more favourable drug-related attitudes than those who have received less or none.
The principal investigators from six potential data sets identified for use (Smoking Cessation for Youth Project, Marijuana Education Project, Australian Secondary School Alcohol and Drug Survey 1999 and 2002, School Health and Alcohol Harm Reduction Project, and Alcohol and Tobacco in Rural and Urban Youth) agreed to consider allowing their data to be included as part of the SDEP evaluation.
Recommendations were made from the literature and a number of ‘dose-response’ analyses, using the data sets identified above, that should be conducted to examine the impact of the SDEP. It is also recommended that process measures be collected both retrospectively (2000 - 2002) and prospectively (2003 onwards). Process data will be useful for these ‘dose-response’ analyses and may stimulate review and action within schools regarding the implementation of the SDEP components.
In 2004, funding was received by the Child Health Promotion Research Centre to undertake the Phase Two Outcome Evaluation of the School Drug Education Project using the evaluation design proposed in this formative study.
School Drug Education Project
Canterbury District Health Board, Christchurch, New Zealand, Dr Greg Hamilton
Professor Donna Cross
Associate Professor Marg Hall