Drug Education News

News and views from the Drug Education Forum

Researching the effects of Digital Storytelling as a brief alcohol intervention for young people delivered in non-medical settings

The Alcohol Education Research Council have a paper on some research into using digital media to impact on young people’s drinking:

The aim of the research was to assess the feasibility and effectiveness of this innovative media-based intervention seeking to reduce the prevalence of young people’s binge drinking in Caerphilly.

What the researchers measured was not only the behaviour of the young people that saw the films (and a control group that didn’t), but also “the socio-psychological predictors of this behaviour, such as knowledge, attitudes, peer-group norms and intentions towards future drinking.”

The paper describes 5 main findings:

  1. There were advantages and disadvantages in the way the films were commissioned.
  2. Those that helped make the films found being involved very rewarding, and had changed some’s attitudes and behaviour towards alcohol.
  3. Viewing in a group setting was “essential to draw focus to the objectives of the intervention.”  But that takes time and planning.
  4. For group discussions to work they need to be in groups of 30 or fewer.
  5. The young people who saw the films wanted them to be longer, more directly about the issue under discussion, make the process of making the film transparent to those who watch it, take it out of the context of PSHE (to give it increased credibility).

The paper also draws out a number of impications for future research, practitioners and policy makers:

  • Relative to other knowledge questions, the low scores in response to the statement, ‘Getting drunk once a week was not harmful’ was most interesting.
  • The findings showed that intentions were shaped by attitudes towards drunkenness, perceived control, and regret. Therefore, focussing interventions on these three areas is likely to be beneficial when attempts are being made to change people’s drinking behaviour.
  • In the short term it may be particularly beneficial to work of people’s control over their behaviour, perhaps by providing them with the confidence and skill to resist peer pressure.
  • It should be remembered that changes in drinking behaviour may not necessarily be the only indicator of the intervention’s effectiveness. Particularly evident through the in-depth interviews held nine months after the intervention, and not possible to record through the questionnaires, the intervention was perceived as being useful in reaffirming the decisions of those young people who chose not to drink or who had limited experience of drunkenness.
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Filed under: alcohol, research, Wales,

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