Innovative Community-Based Prevention System Reduces Risky Behavior in 10-14 Year Olds
A randomized trial of Communities That Care (CTC), an evidence-based substance-use community-focused prevention system, showed significant reductions in the initiation of alcohol use, tobacco use, binge drinking, and delinquent behavior among middle schoolers as they progressed from the fifth through the eighth grades. The four-year trial, called the Community Youth Development Study, began in 2003 and has been supported by the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA), part of the National Institutes of Health.
Akinso: A community based prevention system reduces risky behavior in 10-14 year olds.
Sims: The Communities That Care operating system is not a specific prevention program. Itís a system.
Akinso: Dr. Belinda Sims is a Health Scientist Administrator in the Prevention Research Branch of the Division of Epidemiology, Services and Prevention Research, at the National Institute on Drug Abuse.
Sims: And it was designed to help communities identify specific risk and protective factors for the target populations. They wanted to work with. And identify and implement evidence- based preventive interventions that address those elevated risk factors in those communities.
Akinso: A trial of Communities That Care, a substance use community-focused prevention system, showed significant reductions in the introduction of alcohol use, tobacco use, binge drinking, and delinquent behavior among middle schoolers as they progressed from the fifth through the eighth grade. The four year trial, Community Youth Development Study, began in 2003 and has been supported by NIDA.
Sims: The purpose of the study was to conduct a randomized control trial to examine the efficacy of a system for community wide implementation of evidence based drug abuse prevention and related to behavioral health prevention programs. And these are programs that are designed to reduce substance use and related health risking behaviors among youth.
Akinso: To evaluate the CTC program, researchers studied a group of 4,407 fifth graders from 24 communities in Colorado, Illinois, Kansas, Maine, Oregon, Utah and Washington. Twelve communities were randomly assigned to undergo CTC training and implementation, and 12 served as the control communities that did not implement CTC. Dr. Sims explains how researchers saw fifth graders with slower risk growth in these communities.
Sims: What they found in terms of the overall risk profile, is that risk exposure in the control communities went up significantly faster than risk exposure in the CTC communities. So this delay growth in risk exposure in the intervention communities was associated with the significant decrease in both the incidence and prevalence of substance abuse and delinquency.
Akinso: In the CTC communities, stakeholders, including educators, business and public leaders, health workers, religious leaders, social workers and other community volunteers received six training sessions over a year to help them identify the dominant risk and protective factors for substance use in their areas. Dr. Sims says the results of this trial confirm that tools do exist that give communities the power to reduce risk for multiple problem behaviors across a community.
Sims: The significance of this study is that itís showing that by implementing evidence based approaches in a very systematic way we can have a community wide impact on youth health risking behaviors.
Akinso: Dr. Sims added that this study shows that a coalition of community stakeholders armed with tools solidly grounded in prevention science can prevent middle schoolers from starting to use tobacco, starting to drink, and starting to engage in delinquent behavior. This is Wally Akinso at the National Institutes of Health, Bethesda, Maryland.
About This Audio Report
Reporter: Wally Akinso
Sound Bite: Dr. Belinda Sims
Topic: Risky Behaviors, Community prevention system, drug use