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NEW Evidence Guidelines for the CAYT Database of Impact Studies

The importance of evidence

“Evidence-based” practice – meaning “best practice” or “with well-supported evidence” – is a crucial element in policy development and the implementation of programmes in the prevention field. When selecting prevention programmes for young people, policy makers, practitioners and health and education professionals need easy access to reliable and independently validated information. It is therefore necessary to clearly establish “what works,” as well as what counts as good evidence. That means drafting well-defined standards in order to classify the levels of evidence-based research. Intervention programmes showing relevant effectiveness and rigorous methodologies have to be highlighted within the community of (evidence-based) practice within the prevention field.

A well supported evidence-based intervention programme is usually comprised of two components: a strong magnitude of impact, along with a fair and rigorous methodological approach (Nation et al., 2003). In other words, there has to be causal relationship between implementation of the programme and outcomes of the intervention.

Measuring and classifying the impact of an intervention, according to the existing scoring system, is relatively objective. On the other hand, when it comes to classifying the rigour and types of evidence, the methodological complexity and variables of research design have to be considered, making it more difficult to fairly assign an evidence grade to the evaluation of programmes.

In 2015 we developed the new guidelines of CAYT repository of impact studies to help those delivering alcohol and drug education and prevention programmes ensure the most impact and effectiveness from their delivery.

Have your programme assessed by the CAYT team

If you would like to see your programme listed in the CAYT database, please return your completed application form and a signed copy of the Terms of Agreement to Richard Lynas via email at richard.lynas@menoruk.org

Documents:

CAYT Scoring Application Form

CAYT Terms of Agreement (coming soon)

 

Press release: Supporting children and young people’s transitions through risk prevention

Mentor received joint Government funding for an additional year to further embed expert advice and develop evidence-based tools for local practice in prevention and education.

As part of the Alcohol and Drug Education and Prevention Information Service (ADEPIS),  Mentor will be managing and further developing the Centre for Analysis of Youth Transitions (CAYT), to ensure existing evidence-based and effective preventative programmes reach the mainstream educational settings. The new website is being launched today, Monday 13 April 2015.

As the transitionary period between childhood and adulthood has grown, youth engagement in a range of positive and negative risky behaviours has increased and the education and labour market options faced by young people have changed dramatically. The work of organisations like Mentor, which focuses on harm prevention and early support, is becoming increasingly critical, as is the further development and application of programmes supported by robust evidence.

Quote from Michael O’Toole, Chief Executive at Mentor:

“CAYT is a natural addition to Mentor’s work because of its evidence-based programmes that focus on universal and targeted, age-appropriate prevention and support. At Mentor, we believe that this approach is the best way to build protective factors around young people so that they are able to thrive, free from the harms of alcohol and drugs. Mentor has worked with youth services, schools and families for 17 years to provide early support and preventative programmes rooted in the best international evidence available. By integrating CAYT into ADEPIS, we will continue to offer programmes and services with proven effectiveness in building resilience to risky behaviours in young people.”

Evidence-based practice: a national priority

There has been an increasing national focus on recognising the need for evidence-based prevention and early intervention. Building resilience and character in young people, the promotion of social and emotional learning in formal and non-formal education settings, and improving the teaching quality of Personal, Social, Health, and Economic (PSHE) education in schools are becoming ever more important in shaping government strategies and priorities.

In a time where PSHE education is not a statutory entitlement, it is crucial that services like Mentor-ADEPIS become a source of centralised support and guidance to further establish and sustain the highest quality alcohol and drug education and prevention in schools nationwide.

The Advisory Council on the Misuse of Drugs (ACMD) highlighted the ineffectiveness of drug education and prevention methods when not based on robust evidence and good practice, and emphasised the need to invest in, and further develop, evidence-based practice through high quality evaluation and research.

Mentor-ADEPIS role

Mentor-ADEPIS will continue to be the key provider of ‘information of the evidence of effectiveness of […] prevention programmes and activities’.[1]

Alcohol and drug use is only one among the many risks that young people may encounter as they grow up, and it is often related to other social, personal and cultural risk factors. Mentor-ADEPIS, through CAYT expertise will promote best practice aimed at reducing risky behaviours, increasing protective factors, building resilience, and promoting positive social norms.

About Mentor-ADEPIS

The Alcohol and Drug Education and Prevention Information Service(ADEPIS) is a platform for sharing information and resources aimed at schools, practitioners working in alcohol and drug education and prevention, and a growing range of other settings for reaching young people. Since launched in 2013, ADEPIS has become acknowledged as the leading source of evidence based information and resources for alcohol and drug education and prevention.

The Centre for Analysis of Youth Transitions (CAYT) is a repository of evidence-based information and quality-assured studies that assess the impact of programmes centred on the transitions made by young people.

To find out more please email adepis@mentoruk.org

 

[1] Advisory Council on the Misuse of Drugs (ACMD) report on the prevention of alcohol and drug dependence

The Centre for Analysis of Youth Transitions – ADEPIS

The Centre for Analysis of Youth Transitions initially sponsored by the Department for Education and led by the Institute for Fiscal Studies came to an end in 2013.

We are now pleased to announce that the research centre will, from April 2015, be integrated within, and further developed through the Alcohol and Drug Education and Prevention Information Service (ADEPIS).

ADEPIS received joint Government funding to further embed expert advice and develop evidence-based tools for local practice in prevention and education.

At present, all existing CAYT related Impact Studies and reports have been transferred to the current website, from which you can search according to publication type, research area, and other criteria.

Between April 2015 and March 2016 we aim to:

  • Deliver regional seminars aimed at exploring existing CAYT programmes, benefits, and opportunities for implementation. This will provide practitioners with a better understanding of existing programmes, resources needed for implementation and delivery, as well as the opportunity to gather useful information by meeting programme developers and potential commissioners who already implemented/trialled the programmes in the past.
  • Undertake quality assessment of programme evaluations for newly developed programmes to be added to the CAYT repository.

For further information, please email adepis@mentoruk.org

Why are some adolescents more prone to peer influence than others?

This blog post was written by Dr. Kaidy Stautz for the Alcohol and Drug Education and Prevention Information Service. For further information on this study, please see the reference below.

It is well established that an adolescent’s likelihood of engaging in alcohol and drug use is strongly linked to the drug use habits of his or her peers. Having friends who use drugs is a reliable predictor of whether an individual will go on to use drugs themselves. The influence of peers on drug use behaviour may be direct, such as when friends pressure an individual to use drugs, or indirect, whereby an individual observes and imitates their friends’ drug use in order to be accepted or to do what is felt to be appropriate.

Our findings, recently published in the Journal of Adolescence, showed that a heightened susceptibility to peer influence was related to a specific aspect of impulsivity termed urgency, which is the tendency to act impulsively when experiencing very strong negative or positive emotions.  Urgency has previously been linked with problematic alcohol and substance use, as well as self-harm, eating problems, and risky sexual behaviour. We also found that individuals who were specifically high in negative urgency (acting impulsively in response to negative emotions such as sadness) and who felt that they had low levels of social status were even more susceptible to peer influence. These relationships were present for both males and females.Although all adolescents find their peer group to be an important source of information and reinforcement, individuals differ in their level of susceptibility to peer influence. It is not yet clear how these differences arise, but it is possible that they are related to broader personality characteristics, or traits. We attempted to address this question with a cross-sectional survey of 269 sixth form students from two London colleges. We focused on two personality traits that appear to be heightened during the teenage years: impulsivity, the tendency to act without forethought or restraint; and reward sensitivity, the degree to which an individual is motivated by incentives. We measured various aspects of these traits along with a measure of resistance to peer influence in which participants reported whether they were more likely to resist or relent to their peers in ten scenarios. We also asked participants to report their subjective social status – how liked and respected they felt in their friendship group and year group.

Two practical implications for alcohol and drug education arise from these results. First, it is important to consider individual characteristics when trying to understand why some adolescents have difficulty resisting their peers. Those who tend to ‘go along with the crowd’ may be less able to control their behaviour when experiencing very strong emotional states. Peer acceptance and rejection have particularly strong emotional impacts during the adolescent years, and may lead some individuals to behave irresponsibly or against their better judgement. Teaching teenagers to be aware that strong emotions can lead to careless actions and better equipping them to regulate their behaviour in extreme moods may improve their ability to resist peer pressure.

A second implication is that adolescents who feel socially excluded and who have difficulty regulating strong negative emotions may be especially prone to peer influence, and could be more likely to use drugs as a way of coping with distress or as a way to gain social status with a drug-using peer group. These individuals may benefit from social skills training so that they are better able to make and maintain positive relationships with others and are knowledgeable on effective ways to stand up to unwanted pressure from more dominant peers.

These implications are in line with ADEPIS recommendations that emphasise a ‘life skills’ approach to effective alcohol and drug education, focusing on strengthening adolescents’ interpersonal skills and coping resources in order to build resilience to situations that might encourage drug use.

Dr Kaidy Stautz is currently a Research Associate at the Behaviour and Health Research Unit, University of Cambridge. This study was conducted as part of his PhD research at Goldsmiths, University of London.