The Swedish six-community alcohol and drug prevention trial: Effects on youth drinking

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Abstract

Introduction and Aims

Local communities are increasingly targeted for alcohol and drug prevention campaigns. This study describes some of the key findings from the Swedish six-community alcohol and drug prevention trial (2003–2007) and lessons learned following an evaluation of the trial's effectiveness. The paper focuses mainly on changes in youth drinking and related harms.

Design and Methods

This was a pre- to post-intervention effect study comparing six trial communities that received added training and technical support with six control communities where regular prevention efforts were supported by national alcohol and drug action plans. A repeated, cross-sectional survey of 8092 youths aged 15–19 years assessed changes in alcohol consumption, binge drinking, perceived alcohol availability, access to alcohol via parents and adult attitudes towards the supply of alcohol to youths. National registry data were used to assess changes in hospital admissions due to alcohol intoxication.

Results

Overall, there were few significant improvements in the six trial communities compared with the control communities.

Discussion and Conclusions

The absence of program effects was largely attributable to the selection of strategies (in particular, school and parental programs) lacking evidence of effectiveness in reducing alcohol consumption at the aggregate level. Prevention programs based on efficacy studies need to be tested in community-based effectiveness trials before being disseminated.

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