Effectiveness of a universal internet-based prevention program for ecstasy and new psychoactive substances: a cluster randomized controlled trial

Reference

Champion, K. E., Newton, N. C., Stapinski, L. A., Teesson, M. (2016) Effectiveness of a universal internet-based prevention program for ecstasy and new psychoactive substances: a cluster randomized controlled trial. Addiction 111(8) 1396-1405 doi:http://dx.doi.org/10.1111/add.13345

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.