Combining school and family alcohol education: A systematic review of the evidence


Cairns G, Purves R & McKell J (2014) Combining school and family alcohol education: A systematic review of the evidence. Health Education, 114 (6), pp. 451-472.

Purpose - The purpose of this paper is to map and identify evidence for effective components of combined school and family alcohol education interventions. The paper describes current practice, evaluative evidence of its effects, and highlights specific elements of school and family linked education associated with effective prevention or reduction of alcohol misuse by young people aged 11-18 years. Design/methodology/approach - This paper takes the form of a systematic review. Findings - The review found evidence of small positive effects for interventions delivered over short and longer term duration and low and higher levels of direct contact with students and families. Family-based elements that correlated with positive effects were targeting information and skills development, family communications, and stricter parental attitudes to alcohol misuse. School-based components which involved life skills and social norms approaches were associated with reductions in risky behaviours. Weaker evidence indicated that peer-led programmes, external delivery agents and linkages of school-based components to community-level change may strengthen combined school and family intervention programmes. Research limitations/implications - The heterogeneity of the studies precluded the option to perform meta-analysis. Practical implications - There is a need for more focused use of planning and evaluation tools, and especially more explicit articulation of behaviours and/or behavioural determinants targeted; the methods that will be employed and the conceptual basis for the programme design could contribute to deeper understanding amongst the intervention community of how and why impact is or is not achieved. Social implications - Few studies provide information on the concepts, assumptions or change objectives that shape programme design. The potential benefits of combining school and family education interventions warrants further exploration. Originality/value - The authors believe this is the first review to systematically examine objectives, design and impact of combined school and family alcohol education interventions.

Education; schools; alcohol; family; effectiveness; intervention; behaviour change; substance abuse

Health Education: Volume 114, Issue 6

FundersAlcohol Education & Research council
Publication date30/09/2014
Date accepted by journal30/04/2014