Employment, Social Affairs & Inclusion

Talk About Alcohol

Evidence level:
 
Evidence of effectiveness:
? - 0 + ++
Transferability:
? - 0 + ++
Enduring impact:
? - 0 +

Project overview

'Talk About Alcohol' is an intervention developed in the UK to help children age 11-18 in making informed decisions about alcohol. The programme, developed by The Alcohol Education Trust, is inspired by other programmes such as SHARHP (Australia) and EUDAP Unplugged (EU), social norms approaches and life skills education. 'Talk About Alcohol' is mainly provided in schools, through supporting teachers, students and  parents with online and print resources.

Practice category

  • Facilitating Positive Transitions to Adulthood

Recommendation pillars

  • Put in place mechanisms that promote children’s participation in decision making that affect their lives

Countries that have implemented practice

  • United Kingdom

Age groups

  • Middle Childhood (age 6 to 12)
  • Teenagers (age 13 to 19)

Target groups

  • Children
  • Parents

Years in operation

  • 2010- still operating

Scope of practice

  • National level

Type of organisation implementing practice

  • Non-governmental organisation

The programme is delivered by the Alcohol Education Trust, a charity which works across the UK to keep children safe around alcohol.

Rationale of practice

The programme provides teachers with materials and tools that are designed to encourage students to make informed decisions and rehearse strategies for challenging situations regarding alcohol use, with the aim of delaying the age of first drinking, encouraging responsible drinking behaviours, and reducing the acceptability of drinking to get drunk. The school lessons focus on alcohol health knowledge, developing self-esteem and life skills, and learning to resist peer pressure by using example scenarios, games and role-playing. 

Mode of delivery

  • Face-to-face 
  • Computer based (e.g. online courses, web based tools, etc.)
  • Group sessions
  • Delivered as part of PSHE lessons on alcohol in secondary schools

The ‘Talk about Alcohol’ programme includes online resources, a teacher workbook, information booklets and training & information for teachers and parents. The main mode of delivery is at secondary schools as part of Personal, Social and Health Education (PSHE) classroom lessons.

Delivery dosage

Duration: 1 hour sessions

In the first evaluation (conducted 2011-2012) the intervention was delivered in four sessions, with an extra session spent looking at the website. Two further sessions were delivered a year later. The second evaluation (conducted in 2016) looked at a different cohort of students, with four lessons delivered in a single year.

Location of practice

  • School based
  • Family / home based
  • Centre based

The practice is mainly delivered in schools, as part of PSHE lessons, but there is also some online material, outreach to parents and teacher training, and some delivery via youth and sports clubs as well.

Evidence of effectiveness

To date, the practice has been evaluated twice. In the first evaluation, data was collected at four time points using student surveys. Students were aged 12-13 (in Year 8) for the first survey which had a sample size of 2142 students across 16 schools and took place between November 2011 and January 2012. The second survey was collected later that year (n=2203). A third survey was collected a year later when the students were in year 9 from May to June 2013. The final follow-up was done when the students were aged 15 to 16 (in Year 11) with the data collection taking place in the first quarter of 2015. The sample size dropped dramatically to 1146, likely caused by coinciding GCSE exams, rather than a direct effect of the programme itself.

The first evaluation focussed on implementation across 16 UK schools and had separate intervention and control groups. The first evaluation found that students in the intervention group were less likely to have had their first drink compared to those in the control group both six months and two years after the intervention (results were statistically significant). Students in the intervention group also correctly answered more questions about alcohol and its effects six months after the intervention, compared to children in the control group, (although this was no longer significant at the final follow-up).

The second evaluation undertook a ‘before and after approach’ across 11 schools in deprived areas of England that also had high rates of underage drinking-related hospital admissions. These schools were located in the Isle of Wight, Burnley and East Tyneside. A sample of 473 students was asked about the onset of drinking, and a sample of 215 was used for all further questions. The intervention was implemented in the academic school year of September 2015 to July 2016.

The second evaluation found that after the intervention, students showed improved awareness of social norms relating to their parents’ views on alcohol and regarding their understanding of how many of their fellow students drink alcohol.

Transferability

Evaluation of Practice

  • Practice has been evaluated in multiple populations

The first evaluation examined the use of the Alcohol Education Trust’s ‘Talk About Alcohol’ website, parent materials, and classroom materials in 16 schools across England. The second evaluation was also delivered in 11 schools across 3 different geographical areas, all of which were deprived areas with high levels of underage drinking-related hospital admissions. This evaluation included the same indicators assessed in the first evaluation, but also looked at indicators around social norms, life skills related to alcohol, and perceptions of risk-taking regarding alcohol.

Cost information

  • Implementation cost information is not available

Practice Materials

  • Practice materials available online

The online resources include a 100 page teacher manual and guidance of lesson plans (available here: https://alcoholeducationtrust.org/teacher-area/download-teacher-workbook/) including:

  • 'Quick fix’ worksheets containing alcohol-related, brief scenarios and questions about how the students would feel and act
  • Information sheets and film segments about the social and physical effects of alcohol, alcohol knowledge, and the law
  • Classroom games
  • Suggested lesson progressions and pacing

Resources for parents and teachers are also available on www.alcoholeducationtrust.org

Enduring impact

  • Follow-up has been conducted

The first evaluation conducted a follow-up which found that two years after the conclusion of the Talk About Alcohol programme, children were still statistically significantly less likely to have ever consumed an entire alcoholic drink.

Evaluation details

Evaluation 1 

References:

Lynch, S., Styles, B., Dawson, A., Worth, J., Kerr, D., and Lloyd, J., Talk About Alcohol: an Evaluation of the Alcohol Education Trust’s Intervention in Secondary Schools, Slough: NFER. 2013.

Lynch, S., Worth, J. and Bradshaw, S. (2015). Evaluation of the Alcohol Education Trust’s Talk about Alcohol Intervention: Longer-Term Follow up. Slough: NFER.  

In this evaluation in the United Kingdom, intervention schools were asked to include a specific subset of the intervention modules in their curriculum for a cohort of students age 12-13 during the first year of the programme (4 lessons) and another smaller subset (2 lessons) in the curriculum for the same student cohort in the following year. Students filled out questionnaires about alcohol knowledge, family background and alcohol behaviours before participating in the programme, at the conclusion of the first school year, and again at the conclusion of the second school year of programme participation.  A final follow-up questionnaire was conducted when the students were aged 15-16.

Secondary schools in England were recruited to the intervention group from the list of schools that had expressed interest in the Alcohol Education Trust’s materials but had not yet received them. Secondary schools were eligible for the control group if they had not already received the intervention and had not ordered or expressed interest in Alcohol Education Trust materials in the past. The control schools were selected based on propensity score matching on region, percentage of students eligible for free school meals, urban/rural, and a rating of school effectiveness (Ofsted category).

Intervention schools were instructed to include a minimum of the following topics in the intervention materials in their curriculum between baseline and the end of the 2011-2012 school year:

  • Assessing knowledge of alcohol and its effects
  • The decision to drink or not 
  • Alcohol units and guidelines
  • Alcohol and its effects
  • An hour on the www.talkaboutalcohol.com website

During the 2012-2013 school year, intervention schools were instructed to include the additional following topics in their curriculum:

  • Alcohol and the law
  • Staying safe and risk taking

Students aged 12-13 at baseline were given a survey questionnaire at baseline, at the end of the first school year, at the end of the second school year, and again two years after the completion of the programme. The survey asked about the student’s personal experiences with alcohol, their knowledge about the effects of alcohol, and responsible behaviour around alcohol. Responses were analysed using multi-level modelling and multi-level logistic modelling clustering at the school level for the outcomes of knowledge about alcohol, having ever drunk an entire alcoholic drink, and frequency of drinking, controlling for background characteristics.

Summary of Results for Evaluation 1

Outcome

Treatment Group

Control Group

Outcomes improved (statistically significant)

Six months post-intervention

 

Children in the intervention group answered on average 0.34 more questions correctly than the control group at the end of the first year and 0.30 more questions correctly than the control group at the end of the second year from a set of nine questions testing knowledge about alcohol, after controlling for demographic and home life characteristics.

The odds of a child having ever drunk an entire alcoholic drink in the intervention group were 0.86 times as high as for a child in the control group at the end of the first year and 0.78 times as high at the end of the second year.

 

Two years post-intervention

 

The odds of a child having ever drunk an entire alcoholic drink in the intervention group were 0.81 times as high as for a child in the control group two years after the intervention.

 

Outcomes with no effect

Treatment Group

Control

Six month post-intervention

Frequency of drinking - End of second year             

Only a few times a year

29%

41%

Once a month or more

14%

18%

No longer drink alcohol

5%

4%

Ever been drunk or engaged in binge drinking - End of second year

 

 

Never been drunk

30%

39%

Once

6%

   8%

More than once

10%

12%

Two years post-intervention

Knowledge about alcohol (Avg. number correct out of 9)

5.3

5.56

Frequency of drinking - End of second year

 

 

Only a few times a year

30%

38%

Once a month or more

29%

37%

No longer drink alcohol

5%

3%

Ever been drunk or engaged in binge drinking – End of second  year

 

 

Never been drunk

28%

29%

Once

9%

12%

More than once

24%

32%

Evaluation 2 

Reference:

Gutman, Leslie Morrison. (2016) An evaluation of the Alcohol Education Trust ‘Talk about Alcohol’ Programme in three areas of England where alcohol related indices of harm are highest for under 18’s (LAPE). University College London Institute of Education.

The second evaluation took place across 11 schools in three different parts of the United Kingdom. The ‘Talk about Alcohol’ intervention was delivered in the form of four sessions to Year 8 students (aged 12-13). Pre-intervention and post-intervention questionnaire data was collected from students participating in the programme. In contrast to the first evaluation, there was no control group. However, questions covered alcohol use, alcohol knowledge, alcohol social norm perceptions, as well as questions concerning their engagement in school and their wellbeing, slightly expanding on the range of topics covered in the first evaluation. 

Pre-intervention questionnaires were collected from 2000 students across all 11 schools, and post-intervention questionnaires collected from 1,675 students across 9 schools. Two schools were not included in the sample because they did not return the questionnaires on time.

Questions looked at:

  • Onset of drinking
  • Frequency of drinking
  • Experience of being drunk/binge drinking
  • Social norm perceptions
  • Life skills related to alcohol risk-taking
  • Knowledge about alcohol

Due to budgetary issues, a randomly chosen sample was selected for analysis in the evaluation concerning the onset of drinking alcohol (n=473) and a smaller subset was used for the rest of the questions (n=215). Statistical testing was undertaken to analyse the changes in the outcomes of interest from pre-intervention to post-intervention.

Children were found to more accurately understand their parents’ views about their children drinking alcohol, as well as more accurately estimate the number of their fellow students who drink alcohol. Further, there was an increase in the children’s knowledge about alcohol and its potential effects. These statistically significant findings indicate an overall improved awareness of the children concerning alcohol.

Summary of Results for Evaluation 2

Outcome

Pre-intervention

Post-intervention

Outcomes improved (statistically significant)

Social Norm Perceptions

Students reported more accurate answers about how many students in their year drink alcohol post-intervention, compared to pre-intervention (n = 65 out of 215). They were also more accurate with knowing their parent’s views; they were more likely to report that their parents do not like them drinking alcohol, and less likely to say they did not mind them drinking as long as they did not get drunk – both of which more accurately reflected the parents’ views (n = 54 out of 215).

Knowledge of Alcohol and its Effects (n=215)

 

 

Knowledge about alcohol (Avg. number correct out of 9)

3.87

4.79

Outcomes with no effect

Ever been drunk/experienced binge drinking ? (n=215)       

Never been drunk

28%

36%

Once

5%

3%

More than once

1%

3%

Don’t drink

66%

58%

Can you resist or refuse drinking alcohol in different situations? (n = 60 out of 215)

 

 

Yes (average score from 1 – strongly disagree to 5 – strongly agree)

3.68

3.62

Students’ alcohol-related expectancies (n = 59 out of 215)

 

 

(Avg. score out of 8)

3.6

3.6

Issues to consider

Evaluation 1

Internal validity might be threatened because in order to be included in the evaluation, schools in the intervention group must have requested ‘Talk About Alcohol’ materials, while schools in the control group were not allowed to have done so, leading to self-selection issues. Additionally, students in the intervention group were more likely to be from minority backgrounds and have fewer books in their homes (compared to those in the control group), potentially leading to a bias in effect size. However, multi-level modelling controlled for this.

Evaluation 2

Budgetary issues meant the sample size analysed was much smaller than data was collected for. Further, two schools did not return their data, leading to unwanted attrition. Much simpler statistical techniques were used compared to the first evaluation, due to the small sample size and lack of a control group. Furthermore, the analysis failed to control for other socio-economic characteristics of the children and the schools. Additionally, while the researcher attempts to compare the results with that of the first evaluation, they do not highlight the difference in the composition of the two samples.

Contact Information

Name

N/A

Title

N/A

Organisation

The Alcohol Education Trust

Address

Frampton House, Frampton, Dorset DT2 9NH, UK

Email

N/A

Website

http://www.talkaboutalcohol.com/contact-us/

Available resources

Bibliography

Lynch, S., Styles, B., Dawson, A., Worth, J., Kerr, D., and Lloyd, J., Talk About Alcohol: an Evaluation of the Alcohol Education Trust’s Intervention in Secondary Schools, Slough: NFER. 2013.

Lynch, S., Worth, J. and Bradshaw, S. (2015). Evaluation of the Alcohol Education Trust’s Talk about Alcohol Intervention: Longer-Term Follow up. Slough: NFER.

Gutman, Leslie Morrison. (2016) An evaluation of the Alcohol Education Trust ‘Talk about Alcohol’ Programme in three areas of England where alcohol related indices of harm are highest for under 18’s (LAPE). University College London Institute of Education.

Last updated

November 2019

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