Effectiveness of a universal internet-based prevention program for ecstasy and new psychoactive substances

a cluster randomized controlled trial

Katrina E. Champion*, Nicola C. Newton, Lexine A. Stapinski, Maree Teesson

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

8 Citations (Scopus)

Abstract

Aim  To evaluate the effectiveness of an online school-based prevention program for ecstasy (MDMA) and new psychoactive substances (NPS). Design  Cluster randomized controlled trial with two groups (intervention and control). Setting  Eleven secondary schools in Australia. Participants  A total of 1126 students (mean age: 14.9 years). Intervention  The internet-based Climate Schools: Ecstasy and Emerging Drugs module uses cartoon storylines to convey information about harmful drug use. It was delivered once weekly, during a 4-week period, during health education classes. Control schools received health education as usual. Measurement  Primary outcomes were self-reported intentions to use ecstasy and NPS at 12 months. Secondary outcomes were ecstasy and NPS knowledge and life-time use of ecstasy and NPS. Surveys were administered at baseline, post-intervention and 6 and 12 month post-baseline. Findings  At 12 months, the proportion of students likely to use NPS was significantly greater in the control group (1.8%) than the intervention group [0.5%; odds ratio (OR) = 10.17, 95% confidence interval (CI) = 1.31–78.91]. However, students' intentions to use ecstasy did not differ significantly between groups (control = 2.1%, intervention = 1.6%; OR = 5.91, 95% CI = 1.01–34.73). There was a significant group difference in the change from baseline to post-test for NPS knowledge (β = −0.42, 95% CI = −0.62 to −0.21, Cohen's d = 0.77), with controls [mean = 2.78, standard deviation (SD = 1.48] scoring lower than intervention students (mean = 3.85, SD = 1.49). There was also evidence of a significant group difference in ecstasy knowledge at post-test (control: mean = 9.57, SD = 3.31; intervention: mean = 11.57, SD = 3.61; β = −0.54, 95% CI = −0.97 to −0.12, P = 0.01, d = 0.73). Conclusions  The Climate Schools: Ecstasy and Emerging Drugs module, a universal online school-based prevention program, appeared to reduce students' intentions to use new psychoactive substances and increased knowledge about ecstasy and new psychoactive substances in the short term.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1396-1405
Number of pages10
JournalAddiction
Volume111
Issue number8
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - Aug 2016
Externally publishedYes

Keywords

  • Adolescents
  • ecstasy
  • internet
  • new psychoactive substance
  • prevention

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