Objective: To describe and critique methodological aspects of school-based interventions that involve a broader community initiative. Methods: An electronic search of 11 databases and manual search of references for intervention studies published in peer-reviewed journals from January 2000 to August 2004. To be included in the review, alcohol needed to be a primary focus of the study, the intervention to be school based and include grades between five and 12, and the intervention needed to involve the community. Results: Sixteen articles were selected for inclusion in the review. Methodologically, several studies excluded reporting important details (e.g. follow-up periods unclear), process measures were ignored by some studies (e.g. exposure to intervention), and some employed less than optimal outcome measures (such as attitudes and knowledge). Student education, some form of parental involvement and researchers providing resources to the school, were the most frequently employed intervention strategies. Conclusions: There is a clear need to conduct more rigorous evaluation studies and to increase reporting standards for school-based interventions. There is also tentative scope to include the community more broadly, rather than focus on established relationships within the school environment. Implications: As evidence suggests, there is limited effectiveness in school-based interventions. It may be beneficial to do lowest-cost interventions that have some evidence for effect, complemented by strategies identified by expert opinion, until further rigorous evidence arises.
Australian and New Zealand Journal of Public Health Vol. 30, Issue 6, p. 541-549