The goals of this R21 proposal from a new investigator are to (1) refine a brief intervention component to actively involve youth in analyzing and planning substance use prevention messages, (2) conduct a feasibility study for the intervention, and (3) develop procedures and measures for a future randomized control trial. The proposed study applies a media literacy framework to explore how actively involving youth in developing prevention messages functions as a strategy for maximizing the impact of prevention interventions. Analysis of pro-drug (alcohol) messages and creation of anti-ATOD messages promotes adolescents'perspective taking about why peers do or do not use alcohol. We hypothesize that this process impacts norms and ATOD expectancies and ultimately reduces substance use. The proposal responds to NIDA PA-08-218 Drug Abuse Prevention Intervention Research (R21) calling for investigations addressing 1) the development of novel prevention approaches, 2) the testing of novel and adapted prevention intervention approaches, and 3) the elucidation of processes associated with the selection, adoption, adaptation, implementation, sustainability, and financing of empirically validated interventions. In phase 1, interviews, focus groups, preliminary studies, and literature reviews will be used to develop an intervention curriculum, Youth Message Development (YMD). The intervention is intended to be brief and teach media literacy through active engagement with prevention messages. In phase 2, a feasibility study will be conducted in which high school students (N = 310) attending a leadership program in Pennsylvania are randomly assigned to an analysis workshop or an analysis plus planning workshop, and both compared to a control group. Assessments of the workshops by leadership program personnel, teachers, and project staff (N = 55) will also be used to evaluate feasibility. In addition to examining feasibility, outcome assessment (pretest, intermediate posttest after intervention, and a delayed posttest) will provide a preliminary test of the hypothesis that the analysis plus planning group produces better outcomes than the analysis only intervention and that both interventions are superior to the control group. Results from the study will serve as a foundation for a larger randomized clinical trial. One of the added benefits of this innovative brief intervention component is that while potentially impacting substance use alone or in combination with a comprehensive intervention, it encourages the development of higher order critical thinking skills valued in high school curricula under current teaching standards in many states which should foster dissemination.

Public Health Relevance

Adolescent substance abuse remains a significant public health concern and media literacy-based interventions appear to be a promising approach to addressing this problem that deserves to be evaluated rigorously. This study provides a feasibility test of a media literacy intervention and a preliminary look at how it functions, with what effects, and how it may be implemented on a broader scale. The long-term objective of this project is to develop a component of an effective brief school-based prevention program to reduce adolescent substance use for testing in a randomized clinical trial.

National Institute of Health (NIH)
National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA)
Exploratory/Developmental Grants (R21)
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Community Influences on Health Behavior (CIHB)
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Crump, Aria
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Rutgers University
Other Domestic Higher Education
New Brunswick
United States
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