Family-based prevention and multi-component interventions may help prevent alcohol misuse in young people, say new systematic reviews

iStock_000007751179XSmall teenage boy no to alcohol

Readers interested in preventing alcohol misuse in young people will find these two new systematic reviews from the Cochrane Library worth looking at in more detail.

Both reviews have been conducted by researchers from Brookes University in Oxford, who searched for randomised controlled trials including school aged children up to 18 years old.

The first review examined the effectiveness of family-based universal programs for the prevention of alcohol misuse in young people. In family settings, universal prevention typically takes the form of supporting the development of parenting skills including parental support, nurturing behaviours, establishing clear boundaries or rules, and parental monitoring. Social and peer resistance skills, the development of behavioural norms and positive peer affiliations can also be addressed with a universal family-based preventive program.

Most of the studies included in this review reported positive effects of family-based universal programs for the prevention of alcohol misuse in young people. Two studies, each with a large sample size, reported no effects.

The reviewers concluded:

The effects of family-based prevention interventions are small but generally consistent and also persistent into the medium- to longer-term.

The second review examined the effectiveness of universal multi-component programs for the prevention of alcohol misuse in young people. Multi-component prevention programs are defined as those prevention efforts that deliver interventions in multiple settings, for example in both school and family settings, typically combining school curricula with a parenting intervention.

A majority of the studies included in this review reported positive effects of multi-component programs for the prevention of alcohol misuse in young people, with effects persisting into the medium- and longer-term. But a notable proportion of trials reported no statistically significant effects. In seven studies the reviewers were able to assess the impact of single versus multiple components, and only 1 out of the 7 studies clearly showed a benefit of components delivered in more than one setting.

The reviewers concluded:

There is some evidence that multi-component interventions for alcohol misuse prevention in young people can be effective. However, there is little evidence that interventions with multiple components are more effective than interventions with single components.

Links

Foxcroft DR, Tsertsvadze A. Universal family-based prevention programs for alcohol misuse in young people. Cochrane Database of Systematic Reviews 2011, Issue 9. Art. No.: CD009308. DOI: 10.1002/14651858.CD009308.

Foxcroft DR, Tsertsvadze A. Universal multi-component prevention programs for alcohol misuse in young people. Cochrane Database of Systematic Reviews 2011, Issue 9. Art. No.: CD009307. DOI: 10.1002/14651858.CD009307.

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Andre Tomlin

Andre Tomlin

André Tomlin is an Information Scientist with 20 years experience working in evidence-based healthcare. He's worked in the NHS, for Oxford University and since 2002 as Managing Director of Minervation Ltd, a consultancy company who do clever digital stuff for charities, universities and the public sector. Most recently André has been the driving force behind the Mental Elf and the National Elf Service; an innovative digital platform that helps professionals keep up to date with simple, clear and engaging summaries of evidence-based research. André is a Trustee at the Centre for Mental Health and an Honorary Research Fellow at University College London Division of Psychiatry. He lives in Bristol with his wife, dog and three little elflings.

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