Study Finds Effective Interventions to Prevent Alcohol Use Among Youth
Community-based and individual-level prevention strategies are effective ways to reduce alcohol use among American Indian and other youth living in rural communities, according to a new study supported by NIAAA; NIDA also provided support for the work.
“This important study underscores our commitment to finding evidence-based solutions for alcohol problems in American Indian and other underserved populations,” said NIAAA director Dr. George Koob. “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.”
Although American Indian teens drink at rates similar to other U.S. teens, they have a higher rate of early onset alcohol use compared to other groups and higher rates of alcohol problems. Rural youths, including those who are a racial minority relative to their community, are also at increased risk for alcohol misuse. 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, researchers worked with the Cherokee Nation, the second largest American Indian tribe in the United States, to implement a rigorous research trial of two strategies to reduce underage drinking and its consequences. Communities Mobilizing for Change on Alcohol is a community-organizing intervention designed to reduce alcohol access, use and health and social consequences among underage youths. The second strategy, called CONNECT, is an individually delivered screening and brief intervention presented in schools.
The study was conducted within the 14 counties of northeastern Oklahoma that comprise the Cherokee Nation jurisdictional area, which is home to about 40 percent of the tribe. While Cherokee citizens constitute a significant proportion of the population, whites and other racial/ethnic minorities also live within this area. Results of the trial are reported in the March 2017 issue of the American Journal of Public Health.
“Community organizing has been used effectively in multiple other health intervention trials and appeared to be an optimal strategy to engage diverse citizens in these multicultural communities,” explained research leader Dr. Kelli Komro of the Rollins School of Public Health at Emory University.