One of The National Institute on Drug Abuse's (NIDA) long-standing goals has been to provide children and adolescents with accurate and up-to-date information about the scientific bases of substance abuse and the role the brain plays in addiction. However, many of the currently available substance abuse education programs for children and adolescents focus not on science education, but on prevention using life-skills development and drug-refusal skills. Furthermore, the efficacy of many of these programs has not been adequately demonstrated. Additionally, there are surprisingly few programs developed specifically for elementary school age children, despite the fact that research demonstrates that there is a need for such efforts. The few science-based substance abuse education curricula that do exist have minimized the importance of potential gender effects. Educators recognize that boys and girls learn and play differently. Furthermore, research indicates that adapting learning materials for a specific gender may increase the efficacy of those materials. Therefore, in line with NIDA's SEDAPA program, we plan to create and evaluate separate teaching tools for elementary school aged students that provide a """"""""science of addiction curriculum"""""""" and capitalize on gender differences. In order to improve the relevancy of our programs, we will conduct a series of focus groups with parents, teachers, school administrators, and students. We will combine the results of these focus groups with feedback from scientific and curriculum consultants to insure that our programs are accurate and pedagogically sound. Once the curriculum is developed, however, we will develop two sets of intervention materials. One set will present lessons in a competitive video-game format and the second will present lessons using a socially collaborative method. Finally, we will conduct a carefully controlled evaluation of our materials. We will randomly assign participating fourth- and fifth-grade students to one of the intervention formats described above or to a non-treatment control condition. We will conduct pre-test, post-test, and six month follow-up evaluations in order to assess the effectiveness of our programs.
|Epstein, Joel; Noel, Jeffrey; Finnegan, Megan et al. (2016) Bacon Brains: Video Games for Teaching the Science of Addiction. J Child Adolesc Subst Abuse 25:504-515|