Alcohol prevention strategies effective for American Indian teens and rural youth

April 6, 2017

By Sally Crocker

Reaserach_Web
 
A new study published in The American Journal of Public Health indicates that alcohol use among American Indian and white teens living in multicultural rural communities can be significantly reduced by community-based and individual-level prevention strategies.

UNT Health Science Center researcher Melvin Livingston, PhD, led the statistical design and analysis of the study, which was supported by the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism (NIAA), part of the National Institutes of Health, and the National Institute on Drug Abuse. Dr. Livingston is Assistant Professor of Biostatistics and Epidemiology at UNTHSC’s School of Public Health.

“This study is one of the largest alcohol prevention trials ever conducted with an American Indian population, and the first to demonstrate the effectiveness of screening and brief counseling intervention in significantly reducing youth alcohol use at a community level,” said NIAAA Director George F. Koob, PhD.

American Indian teens and other rural youth initiate alcohol use at younger ages and have higher rates of alcohol-related problems than other groups. Early prevention is critical in these populations, but both American Indians and rural communities have been underrepresented in studies aimed at finding effective solutions for underage drinking.

To address this gap, a team of researchers led by Kelli A. Komro, PhD, of Emory University, worked with students in the Cherokee Nation, northeastern Oklahoma, to evaluate the effects of two strategies that previous research has indicated may be beneficial.

The first strategy, Communities Mobilizing for Change on Alcohol (CMCA), is a citizen-led community-organizing effort that holds local officials responsible for taking action to reduce alcohol access, use and consequences among underage youth.

The second strategy, called CONNECT, is a school-based, one-on-one health screening and brief intervention in which trained health coaches meet with students each semester to motivate healthy behaviors related to alcohol consumption.

High school students in six communities were randomly assigned to treatment or control conditions over a three-year period. Two communities received both intervention strategies, while students in two other communities received neither intervention strategy. Another community received only CMCA, and one received only CONNECT.

Results showed that alcohol use in the past 30 days, including any consumption and heavy drinking episodes (five or more drinks on at least one occasion), was significantly reduced among students receiving either or both of the interventions.

“The two distinct interventions alone and in combination resulted in similar patterns of effect across time,” said Dr. Komro, “but, interestingly, we found no evidence that the two interventions combined had significantly greater effects than either alone.”

“We found that community and school support and engagement in prevention is critical to shaping a more healthful environment for teens. Strategies such as ones conducted in this study should be further investigated with a focus on sustainability,” she said.

Meharvan Singh
Study: Progesterone protects the brain during stroke

By Jan Jarvis   HSC Insider Learn more about UNTHSC’s people and programs by signing up for the weekly HSC Insider email. Time is critical when someone has a stroke – especially the first three to four hours. That’s how long someone has to get to the hospi...Read more

Nov 19, 2018

Pa Fc
For physician assistant students, Friday lessons are hands-on and lecture-free

By Alex Branch   The physician assistant students huddled around Davey, a 5-year-old boy who wheezed and struggled to breathe. Students studied his medical history chart and leaned down to talk to him on the exam table. They calmed Davey’s mother and watched his vital signs on a digi...Read more

Nov 14, 2018

Mac Fc
Fun on the Bun’s Mac Thompson to retire

By Alex Branch   After more than 11 years of serving charbroiled steak burgers to a hungry Health Science Center, Mac Thompson is hanging up his red apron. Thompson will retire from Fun on the Bun this month. Beloved for his warm, gentle humor, Thompson is a fixture on the first flo...Read more

Nov 13, 2018

Suchismita Fc
A glaucoma treatment that skips the poke in the eye

By Jan Jarvis   One of the ways researchers are exploring treating the optic nerve damage of glaucoma is an injection directly into the eye. But Suchismita Acharya, PhD, is studying a different approach that not only takes the pain out of treating this blinding disease but also holds t...Read more

Nov 12, 2018