Impact of a Positive Youth Development Program in Urban After-School Settings on the Prevention of Adolescent Substance Use

Published in: Journal of Adolescent Health, v. 41, no. 3, Sep. 2007, p. 239-247

Posted on RAND.org on January 01, 2007

by Jacob Kraemer Tebes, Richard Feinn, Jeffrey J. Vanderploeg, Matthew Chinman, Jane Shepard, Tamika Brabham, Maegan Genovese, Christian M. Connell

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PURPOSE: Positive youth development (PYD) emphasizes a strengths-based approach to the promotion of positive outcomes for adolescents. After-school programs provide a unique opportunity to implement PYD approaches and to address adolescent risk factors for negative outcomes, such as unsupervised out-of-school time. This study examines the effectiveness of an after-school program delivered in urban settings on the prevention of adolescent substance use. METHODS: A total of 304 adolescents participated in the study: 149 in the intervention group and 155 in a control group. A comprehensive PYD intervention that included delivery of an 18-session curriculum previously found to be effective in preventing substance use in school settings was adapted for use in urban after-school settings. The intervention emphasizes adolescents' use of effective decision-making skills to prevent drug use. Assessments of substance use attitudes and behaviors were conducted at program entry, program completion, and at the 1-year follow-up to program entry. Propensity scores were computed and entered in the analyses to control for any pretest differences between intervention and control groups. Hierarchical linear modeling (HLM) analyses were conducted to assess program effectiveness. RESULTS: The results demonstrate that adolescents receiving the intervention were significantly more likely to view drugs as harmful at program exit, and exhibited significantly lower increases in alcohol, marijuana, other drug use, and any drug use 1 year after beginning the program. CONCLUSIONS: A PYD intervention developed for use in an urban after-school setting is effective in preventing adolescent substance use.

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