The Smoking Cessation for Youth Project (SCYP) was a two year cluster randomised intervention trial conducted in 1999 and 2000, which designed, implemented and evaluated an innovative school-based smoking education program based on harm minimisation principles. The SCYP study found regular smoking (those that smoke five or more days per week) among students who had received the intervention was significantly lower than among students from a comparison group. Onset of smoking may also have been lower among those receiving the intervention. In 2002 the National Health and Medical Research Council funded the Smoking Cessation for Youth Project (SCYP) for an additional two years to determine the extent to which the positive effects of the initial intervention had been sustained at four-year follow up (two years after its completion) with students then in Year 12.
The study involved 30 WA metropolitan high schools, who had previously been assigned to either a control or intervention group. In addition, schools who received the initial SCYP intervention were randomly assigned to two groups, one that received an additional ‘booster’ intervention, and the other, no additional intervention. The ‘booster’ intervention comprised innovative magazine-style ‘self-help’ materials appealing to Year 12 students. The materials titled ‘FRESH’ were developed following comprehensive formative research with the target group. A three part magazine-style flyer booster intervention was delivered to students attending half the original intervention schools. Pre and post-test data were collected from approximately 69% of the original SCYP sample, including approximately 400 students who had left school.
Four-year follow-up of students in the original trial indicated a decay of initial two year intervention effects for regular smoking, however, ongoing intervention effects were seen for ever smoking measures. This finding is important regarding debate over the potential negative iatrogenic effects of harm minimisation interventions. Students who received the booster intervention did not have significantly different smoking behaviour to students in the original SCYP intervention condition who did not receive the booster.
National Health and Medical Research Council (NHMRC)
Professor Donna Cross
Canterbury District Health Board, Christchurch, New Zealand, Dr Greg Hamilton
University of Michigan, United States, Dr Ken Resnicow
Associate Professor Marg Hall