219162 Science education: A promising approach to prevent youth prescription drug abuse

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

Eric C. Twombly, PhD , KDH Research and Communication Inc, Atlanta, GA
Kristen D. Holtz, PhD , KDH Research and Communication Inc, Atlanta, GA
Kimberly A. Stringer, MA , KDH Research and Communication, Atlanta, GA
This paper presents the findings from an evaluation of a science education-based prescription drug abuse prevention curricula for middle school students. Because prescription drugs are the most commonly abused drug by seventh and eighth grade students, there are calls from public health practitioners and policy makers for effective prevention tools. However, traditional prevention models may be ineffective for preventing prescription drug abuse because of youth motivations to abuse these drugs to self-medicate rather than to get high. Because of the unique characteristics of prescription drug abuse, we hypothesize that a science education based curriculum is an effective method to transmit prevention information to youth. The evaluation explored four interrelated research questions: In comparison to controls, to what extent does the curriculum increase knowledge about prescription drugs? To what extent do students in the treatment group have more protective attitudes and normative beliefs about prescription drugs? Greater self-efficacy to refuse prescription drugs? Fewer intentions to abuse prescription drugs? We collected primary quantitative data from 120 seventh and eighth grade students in four geographically dispersed schools in the U.S. We used a pretest/post-test quasi-experimental study to explore the statistical relationship between exposure to the curriculum and dependent variables. Preliminary findings suggest that students exposed to the study curriculum reported increased knowledge about prescription drugs, more accurate norms and protective attitudes about the risks of prescription drugs, and greater self-efficacy and fewer intentions to abuse prescription drugs. A science education approach to prevention may be effective in curbing prescription drug abuse among teens.

Learning Areas:
Administer health education strategies, interventions and programs
Planning of health education strategies, interventions, and programs
Program planning
Public health or related public policy
Social and behavioral sciences

Learning Objectives:
1)Explain the differences between other illicit drug abuse and prescription drug abuse. 2)Discuss factors that may be effective in curbing prescription drug abuse among teens. 3)Identify characteristics of an effective prescription drug abuse prevention program.

Keywords: Prescription Drug Use Patterns, Adolescents

Presenting author's disclosure statement:

Qualified on the content I am responsible for because: I am qualified to present because I construct and evaluate substance abuse materials such as prescription drug abuse prevention curricula and substance abuse prevention materials for adolescents.
Any relevant financial relationships? No

I agree to comply with the American Public Health Association Conflict of Interest and Commercial Support Guidelines, and to disclose to the participants any off-label or experimental uses of a commercial product or service discussed in my presentation.