Community intervention to prevent adolescent health behavior problems: Evaluation of communities that care in Australia.

Health Psychol 2019 Jun 18;38(6):536-544. Epub 2019 Apr 18.

Centre for Adolescent Health, Murdoch Children's Research Institute.

Objective: A major challenge for health psychologists is to ensure the implementation of evidence-based interventions to improve population health. To reduce high rates of adolescent alcohol use and related health problems, trials of the Communities That Care (CTC) prevention process were implemented in Australia beginning in 2001. The process assists communities to strategically plan and monitor implementation of evidence-based preventative interventions. This article reports an evaluation of the effects in the first four Australian communities that completed the process.

Method: Trends were examined based on self-report surveys completed by 41,328 adolescents (average age 13.5 years, 51.7% female) across 109 municipal localities between 1999 and 2015. Multilevel modeling compared the 5 localities where the 4 coalitions completed the CTC process with the remaining 104 localities for trends in adolescent reports of lifetime alcohol, tobacco, and cannabis use and past year antisocial behavior.

Results: Relative to Australian trends, adolescents in CTC localities reported significantly steeper annual reductions in any lifetime alcohol (Adjusted odds ratio [AOR] = 0.94, 95% confidence intervals [CI] = [0.93, 0.95]), tobacco (AOR = 0.97, CI [0.96, 0.99]), cannabis use (AOR = 0.96, CI [0.93, 0.98]) and antisocial behavior (unstandardized regression coefficient [B] = -0.001, CI [-0.002, 0.000]).

Conclusion: Implementation of the CTC process in Australia was associated with more rapid community reductions in adolescent health behavior problems. Supporting community coalitions to adopt evidence-based interventions appears a feasible means for health psychologists to improve the health of large adolescent populations and prevent related chronic health problems in later life. (PsycINFO Database Record (c) 2019 APA, all rights reserved).

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June 2019
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