Page last updated: September 15, 2016

What works in school-based alcohol education: a systematic review

Considerable attention has been focused on the impact of young people's alcohol use. To address this, schools often implement alcohol and drug education and there are many potential programmes to choose from. A study aimed to identify evidence-based alcohol education programmes for schools.

A systematic review was undertaken of school-based programmes that targeted alcohol within a school setting and included at least one alcohol behaviour or knowledge change outcome. Six-hundred seventyfive abstracts were screened resulting in 454 studies assessed for eligibility, with 70 studies, evaluating 40 individual programmes, included in the final review. Of the 40 programmes, 3 had good evidence of a positive effect. They included CLIMATE Schools (Australia), Project ALERT (USA) and All Stars (USA).

Of the others, 4 showed some evidence of positive effect, 1 had no evidence of effect, 29 were inconclusive and 2 showed negative outcomes, such as increases in alcohol use. Although many programmes were evaluated, very few had sufficient evidence to be able to endorse their widespread implementation in schools.

Three programmes included in the review had sufficient positive outcomes to be recommended for implementation, and four showed good outcomes in some areas.

The authors state that schools should consider these results when deciding on introducing alcohol education. Overall, the evidence base is broad but relatively weak and further research is required, focusing on programmes identified as having good or potentially good outcomes.

Source: What works in school-based alcohol education: a systematic review. Lee NK; Cameron J; Battams S; Roche A, Health Education Journal, Vol 75, No 7, 2016, pp780-798.

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