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Effects of a Home-Based Family Intervention on Adolescent Alcohol Use and Misuse

Carol J. Loveland-Cherry, Lisa Thomson Ross, Samuel R. Kaufman

Objective: Systematic evaluation of theoretically and empirically based family programs to prevent adolescent alcohol use/misuse is limited. Data presented here are from a longitudinal study evaluating a home-based universal adolescent alcohol use prevention program. The intervention was designed to enhance protective factors and minimize risk factors identified as influencing adolescent alcohol use. Method: A randomized pretest/posttest repeated measures design was used. Adolescents (N = 428; 54% females, 86% European American) and their parents were recruited from three Midwestern school districts. Families were randomly assigned to either a three-session family intervention or a no-intervention control condition. Pretest data collection and the intervention occurred when the adolescents were in fourth grade, and a booster intervention was given in seventh grade. Posttest data collection was completed each year for 4 years in the classroom for adolescents. Results: The intervention was associated with a reduction in alcohol use (F = 5.16, 4/421 df, p < .001) and misuse (F = 3.08, 4/421 df, p < .05) for those adolescents in the intervention condition who were not using alcohol prior to the initiation of the program, but not for those who were using alcohol before initiation of the program. Conclusions: The results support the possible effectiveness of the family intervention as a universal prevention program for decreasing initiation of alcohol use and subsequent misuse for the majority of adolescents who do not report prior drinking. However, additional intervention approaches appear necessary for adolescents who have already used alcohol. (J. Stud. Alcohol, Supplement No. 13: 94-102, 1999)