CAP study – Combining effective universal and targeted approaches to drug prevention

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More than one quarter of Australian teenagers put themselves at risk of short-term alcohol-related harm at least once a month and 17% use an illicit drug at least once a year. As such, the need for prevention is clear. Although an array of school-based prevention programs exists, the majority show minimal effects in reducing drug use and related harms, and some have even reported iatrogenic effects.

Given that school–based drug prevention is the primary means by which drug education is delivered, it is essential to focus on increasing program efficacy. Ideally, preventive interventions should aim to delay onset in both adolescents with low-risk profiles who may be influenced to take up substances due to peer influence and social conformity, and adolescents with high-risk profiles whose underlying vulnerability to psychopathology can lead to substance misuse. Yet, there appear to be no models of well implemented programs that do this.

The current proposal addresses this gap by developing and evaluating a comprehensive approach to preventing substance use and related harms in adolescents by combining effective ‘universal’ and ‘targeted’ school-based prevention programs. The proposed model, known as the CAP (Climate and Preventure) intervention, builds on our unique success in this area through developing the effective universal Climate, and targeted Preventure programs.

Twenty-six schools and 2,190 year 8 participants were recruited to the CAP trial in 2012, and randomised to one of four conditions: (1) Control (health education as usual), (2) Climate (universal prevention for all), (3) Preventure (selective prevention delivered only to 43% of students with high-risk personality profiles), or (4) Climate and Preventure (both universal and selective approaches). All students were followed up for 3 years post baseline. Results at 3 years have shown the effectiveness of universal and selective approaches in preventing harmful alcohol use among low- and high-risk adolescents.

Follow-up for this trial has since been extended and will continue to 7 years post-baseline (until 2019). For more information about The CAP long-term follow up, please click here:


Project Status
Ongoing Projects
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Director of Prevention Research
Ph +61 2 9385 0159
Funding Body
National Health and Medical Research Council
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Director of Prevention Research
Ph +61 2 9385 0159
image - Tim Slade 2018 Lower Res
Director of Epidemiology Research
Ph +61 2 9385 0267
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Postdoctoral Research Fellow
Ph +61 2 9385 0175
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Research Psychologist & PhD Candidate
Ph +61 2 9385 0143
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Research Psychologist
Ph +61 2 9385 0145
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Research Fellow
Ph +61 2 9385 0164
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Senior Psychometrician
Ph +612 9385 0249
Other Investigators
Prof Patricia Conrod

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