We know that delivery of even a well planned and designed alcohol education programme is not enough. Knowledge alone does not result in behaviour change, so just delivering a programme will not necessarily lead to improved behaviour. Evaluation is crucial.
We know from many International studies now that who delivers the programme is important – it appears that teacher led multi component programmes that include parents are key. We also know that an exclusive focus on risks, dangers and consequences is not effective either…
So what does work?
A programme needs to provide: Motivation (reason/ necessity); Information (knowing what to do); Skills for change (knowing how to do it; and an enabling environment (having support). For those age 12+ a combination of life skills, knowledge, resistance skills, correcting social norms and protective strategies, are looking hopeful for older age groups.
The AET’s general population based alcohol harm reduction programmes for young people in the UK is therefore being rigorously evaluated by The National Foundation for Education Research (NFER). They have recruited over 4,000 pupils in Year 8 in 33 schools and are following them between 2011- 13. The AET goals are to demonstrate and improvement in knowledge and decision making skills, and a rise in the age of uptake of drinking and or a reduction of risky behaviours such as binge drinking and drunkenness if they do drink.
The AET was also very realistic in what they asked PSHE teachers to deliver. In the UK, there are tremendous pressures on schools to deliver the curriculum and perform well in league tables. As a result, time allocated for non-core subjects such as PSHE are squeezed. Hence the AET assessed the impact of four lessons in year 8 and 2 in year 9. with one hour spent on line.
LAPE Alcohol specific hospital admissions for under 18s
Below is an easily adapted questionnaire used by the sixth form of a large comprehensive school to assess the knowledge and behaviours of younger pupils in the school. Students interviewed 100 students that represented a good cross section of pupils in the school and then built their findings into pie charts, bar graphs and a detailed written report. Not only did the students find some surprising results about attitudes, but were surprised to see that parents were the key suppliers of alcohol to those underage (60%). The author of this example report found it useful for her University interviews. Questionnaire Report
Key findings from NFER were published 31 Oct 2013 as follows
- Onset of drinking: there was evidence of statistically significant impact on the age at which teenagers start to drink – significantly fewer students in the intervention group than in the comparison had ever had an alcoholic drink by the time of the third survey
- Knowledge of alcohol and its effects: there was significant association between the Talk About Alcohol intervention and increased knowledge of alcohol and its effects – while knowledge scores increased for students in both groups, evidence reveals a significantly greater increase for students in the intervention group
- Antisocial consequences of drinking: very small proportions of students in either group reported experiencing negative consequences of drinking alcohol
- Sources of information on alcohol: students receiving the Talk About Alcohol lessons were more likely than those in the comparison group to report having received helpful information about alcohol from PSHE lessons
- Frequent drinking (defined as once a month or more): although levels of frequency of drinking and binge drinking were lower among intervention schools, there was no evidence of a statistically significant difference in frequency of drinking (amongst those who drank alcohol) or in terms of prevalence of drinking to get drunk at this stage. These are arguably longer term impacts that may be achieved when students are older and more likely to drink alcohol more frequently, as levels of frequent and binge drinking at this stage were low.
The NFER findings were also put forward by The Department for Education for analysis by the Centre for Youth Transitions CAYT. The evaluation model has been awarded 5 out of 6 for quality and the resources have been awarded the top impact score of 3 out of 3 for the effectiveness of the programme. Download the report here.