Preventing drug abuse through persuasive information and early education.

Drug abuse is a significant public health and public policy issue because of the widespread economic, social, and personal costs of addiction. Moreover, the rise in prescription drug abuse is challenging the effectiveness of existing prevention techniques. As a result, public health officials, public policy makers, and local communities are acutely aware of the need to increase the delivery of effective prevention programs as well as measure their impact and cost-effectiveness in combating drug abuse.

The KDHRC program on Drug Abuse Education and Prevention investigates emerging trends in substance abuse and its effective prevention. Using social marketing, school-based prevention, and science education, we excel in reaching young people with persuasive information about the risks of drug use.

AVOID: Anti-Vaping Online Information Dissemination

Alarmingly high rates of e-cig use, especially among youth, have prompted regulatory action on the part of the government and calls to action to create informative resources to educate youth on the potential dangers of use. AVOID aims to reduce youths’ intentions to use by creating educational videos that live on an online platform and are disseminated by community-based organizations.

The Real Cost Campaign

Despite a large effort in tobacco use control and prevention, youth tobacco use has remained steady since 2011. The FDA’s “The Real Cost” campaign reaches youth with persuasive anti-tobacco messages.

POP-D: Proper Use of Prescription Drugs

POP-D is an engaging and effective prescription drug prevention program for students in grades 6-8.

SecuRx

SecuRx supports school administrators as they develop school-wide policies and procedures to prevent and address prescription drug diversion and abuse.

Above the Influence Campaign

“Above the Influence” (ATI) was a national social marketing campaign to reduce and prevent teen marijuana use by persuading teens that substance use is part of the larger world of negative influences that affect them.

Publications

KDHRC contributes to the fields of public health, health communication, and organizational studies through our academic and mainstream publications.

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The Evaluation of Tier Two's Tag It Activity, Part of the National Youth Anti-Drug Media Campaign

Kristen D. Holtz, Eric C. Twombly, Joshua B. Becker, Arienne S. Wyatt

Tag It, an initiative of the Office of National Drug Control Policy under its Above the Influence brand is a three-session activity designed to be implemented by youth-serving, community-based organizations (CBOs) to raise awareness of positive and negative influences in youths’ lives and foster skills for youth to avoid negative influences like drug use. A community-based evaluation of Tag It’s effectiveness in more than 60 CBOs found that exposure to Tag It was associated with teens’ greater ability to identify and stand up to negative influences in their lives. What is more, youth’s perceptions of the risk of drug use increased after participating in Tag It. Finally, exposure to Tag it was associated with a greater awareness of drug abuse prevention advertising and a greater willingness to share anti-drug information with others. Taken together, these findings underscore the value of a community-based component of a national media-based prevention campaign.

February 2011
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The Evaluation of Tier Two's Tag It Activity, Part of the National Youth Anti-Drug Media Campaign

Kristen D. Holtz, Eric C. Twombly, Joshua B. Becker, Arienne S. Wyatt

Tag It, an initiative of the Office of National Drug Control Policy under its Above the Influence brand is a three-session activity designed to be implemented by youth-serving, community-based organizations (CBOs) to raise awareness of positive and negative influences in youths’ lives and foster skills for youth to avoid negative influences like drug use. A community-based evaluation of Tag It’s effectiveness in more than 60 CBOs found that exposure to Tag It was associated with teens’ greater ability to identify and stand up to negative influences in their lives. What is more, youth’s perceptions of the risk of drug use increased after participating in Tag It. Finally, exposure to Tag it was associated with a greater awareness of drug abuse prevention advertising and a greater willingness to share anti-drug information with others. Taken together, these findings underscore the value of a community-based component of a national media-based prevention campaign.

February 2011
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Exploring the Geographical Diffusion of Prescription Drug Misuse by Teens

Eric C. Twombly, Arienne S. Wyatt, & Kristen D. Holtz, KDHRC, & Greta K. Tessman, Emerson College
Working Paper 10-002

This paper examines the geographical diffusion of prescription drug misuse by teens in the United States and compares it with the geographical diffusion of methamphetamine, marijuana, and alcohol. Currently, there is no systematic evidence of how usage patterns of potentially addictive but licit drugs, such as prescription drugs, geographically diffuse, raising questions of how to best prevent their abuse and treat their consequences. We find evidence that the geographical diffusion of drugs of abuse by teens varies by the drugs’ social acceptability, supply, legal status, and use in medical treatments. We also find that the diffusion of prescription drug misuse among teens fails to resemble the patterns of methamphetamine, marijuana, and alcohol, raising the need for a national prevention effort to stem this growing public health problem.

December 2010
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Exploring the Geographical Diffusion of Prescription Drug Misuse by Teens

Eric C. Twombly, Arienne S. Wyatt, & Kristen D. Holtz, KDHRC, & Greta K. Tessman, Emerson College
Working Paper 10-002

This paper examines the geographical diffusion of prescription drug misuse by teens in the United States and compares it with the geographical diffusion of methamphetamine, marijuana, and alcohol. Currently, there is no systematic evidence of how usage patterns of potentially addictive but licit drugs, such as prescription drugs, geographically diffuse, raising questions of how to best prevent their abuse and treat their consequences. We find evidence that the geographical diffusion of drugs of abuse by teens varies by the drugs’ social acceptability, supply, legal status, and use in medical treatments. We also find that the diffusion of prescription drug misuse among teens fails to resemble the patterns of methamphetamine, marijuana, and alcohol, raising the need for a national prevention effort to stem this growing public health problem.

December 2010
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Resonant Prescription Drug Abuse Prevention Messages for Teens

Christine B. Agnew, Eric C.Twombly, & Kristen D. Holtz, KDH Research & Communication

Prescription drug abuse, particularly among teens, has become a major public health problem in the United States. In 2003, roughly 2.3 million teens in the U.S. reported lifetime nonmedical use of a prescription drug (Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration [SAMHSA], 2004). By 2008, the number of teens who reported lifetime nonmedical use of a prescription drug rose to 4.7 million, or one in every five teens in the U.S. (Partnership Attitude Tracking Study [PATS], 2009).

August 2009
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Resonant Prescription Drug Abuse Prevention Messages for Teens

Christine B. Agnew, Eric C.Twombly, & Kristen D. Holtz, KDH Research & Communication

Prescription drug abuse, particularly among teens, has become a major public health problem in the United States. In 2003, roughly 2.3 million teens in the U.S. reported lifetime nonmedical use of a prescription drug (Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration [SAMHSA], 2004). By 2008, the number of teens who reported lifetime nonmedical use of a prescription drug rose to 4.7 million, or one in every five teens in the U.S. (Partnership Attitude Tracking Study [PATS], 2009).

August 2009
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Resonant Messages to Prevent Prescription Drug Misuse by Teens

Eric C. Twombly, Christine B. Agnew, & Kristen D. Holtz, KDHRC
Working Paper 09-003

Prescription drug misuse is a major health problem, particularly among teens. A key step in curbing misuse is the development of effective prescription drug prevention messages. This paper explores the elements of prescription drug misuse prevention messages that resonate with teens using data from focus groups with seventh and eighth grade students. In contrast to some previous research, students reported that messages with positive alternatives and refusal skills had little resonance, but scare tactic messages about prescription drug misuse resonated strongly. The data also suggest a substantial difference in message resonance between seventh and eighth grade students. Overall, the findings suggest the need to craft and target different types of messages for prescription drug misuse prevention to targeted teen audiences.

November 2009
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Resonant Messages to Prevent Prescription Drug Misuse by Teens

Eric C. Twombly, Christine B. Agnew, & Kristen D. Holtz, KDHRC
Working Paper 09-003

Prescription drug misuse is a major health problem, particularly among teens. A key step in curbing misuse is the development of effective prescription drug prevention messages. This paper explores the elements of prescription drug misuse prevention messages that resonate with teens using data from focus groups with seventh and eighth grade students. In contrast to some previous research, students reported that messages with positive alternatives and refusal skills had little resonance, but scare tactic messages about prescription drug misuse resonated strongly. The data also suggest a substantial difference in message resonance between seventh and eighth grade students. Overall, the findings suggest the need to craft and target different types of messages for prescription drug misuse prevention to targeted teen audiences.

November 2009
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Recommendations to Prevent Teen Misuse of Prescription Drugs

Kristen D. Holtz, KDH Research & Communication & Eric C. Twombly, Georgia State University

Prescription drug misuse by teens is a growing public health problem. Although there is basic information on patterns of misuse among teens, there are few systematic analyses of what influences teens’ knowledge about and attitudes towards prescription drugs — key factors for the creation of effective prevention programs — and even less research on methods to curb these increases. To address this information gap, this brief combines multiple bodies of research to construct recommendations to stem the growing problem of prescription drug misuse by teens.

July 2008
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Recommendations to Prevent Teen Misuse of Prescription Drugs

Kristen D. Holtz, KDH Research & Communication & Eric C. Twombly, Georgia State University

Prescription drug misuse by teens is a growing public health problem. Although there is basic information on patterns of misuse among teens, there are few systematic analyses of what influences teens’ knowledge about and attitudes towards prescription drugs — key factors for the creation of effective prevention programs — and even less research on methods to curb these increases. To address this information gap, this brief combines multiple bodies of research to construct recommendations to stem the growing problem of prescription drug misuse by teens.

July 2008
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Using Science-Based Education to Prevent Drug an Alcohol Abuse by Elementary School Students

Eric C. Twombly, Georgia State University & Kristen D. Holtz, KDH Research & Communication

The substantial public health problem of illicit drug use among elementary school children requires innovative thinking on methods to combat it. This brief analyzes the development and preliminary evaluation of a school-based science education intervention to reduce illicit drug use among children and youth. Exposure to the curriculum relates to a change in knowledge about alcohol and drugs, but other factors also play a role in knowledge change. Indeed, greater pre-existing positive attitudes toward science predicted greater knowledge change, and students who knew less at the start of the intervention showed a greater change in knowledge.

June 2008
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Using Science-Based Education to Prevent Drug an Alcohol Abuse by Elementary School Students

Eric C. Twombly, Georgia State University & Kristen D. Holtz, KDH Research & Communication

The substantial public health problem of illicit drug use among elementary school children requires innovative thinking on methods to combat it. This brief analyzes the development and preliminary evaluation of a school-based science education intervention to reduce illicit drug use among children and youth. Exposure to the curriculum relates to a change in knowledge about alcohol and drugs, but other factors also play a role in knowledge change. Indeed, greater pre-existing positive attitudes toward science predicted greater knowledge change, and students who knew less at the start of the intervention showed a greater change in knowledge.

June 2008
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How Attitudes Affect Student Learning About Drugs of Abuse

Kristen D. Holtz, KDH Research & Communication & Eric C. Twombly, Georgia State University

This study, which examines the effectiveness of a middle school science education curriculum on drugs of abuse, suggests that pre-existing student attitudes toward science and drugs play an important role in student performance. The implications of the study are significant in two ways. First, the science-based education curriculum analyzed in this brief — or ones similar in nature — may have value as a drug-prevention tool for students. Second, the study suggests specific methods that may be used to potentiate student outcomes on such curricula. For example, the development of new pedagogical methods to improve science achievement by identifying and intervening with students who report more negative attitudes toward science, prior to the implementation of core content, may have value and should be explored further.

May 2008
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How Attitudes Affect Student Learning About Drugs of Abuse

Kristen D. Holtz, KDH Research & Communication & Eric C. Twombly, Georgia State University

This study, which examines the effectiveness of a middle school science education curriculum on drugs of abuse, suggests that pre-existing student attitudes toward science and drugs play an important role in student performance. The implications of the study are significant in two ways. First, the science-based education curriculum analyzed in this brief — or ones similar in nature — may have value as a drug-prevention tool for students. Second, the study suggests specific methods that may be used to potentiate student outcomes on such curricula. For example, the development of new pedagogical methods to improve science achievement by identifying and intervening with students who report more negative attitudes toward science, prior to the implementation of core content, may have value and should be explored further.

May 2008
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The Power of Positive Attitudes: Student Outcomes on a Science Education Curriculum About Drugs of Abuse

Eric C. Twombly, Georgia State University, Kristen D. Holtz, KDHRC & Greta K. Tessman, Emerson College and Tufts University
Working Paper 07-004

Science literacy is critical for civil society, and attitudes toward science in school have been found to be strong predictors of achievement. Science literacy is of particular concern for the field of substance abuse research. This paper reports the results of an evaluation of a science education curriculum for late elementary school students on drugs of abuse and explores the role that attitudes toward science and attitudes towards drugs played in predicting student outcomes. The main finding is that students with positive attitudes toward science before the implementation of the curriculum tend to show greater acquisition of knowledge. In contrast, students with less protective attitudes toward drugs were found to show greater knowledge acquisition. This study suggests that the development of new pedagogical methods to improve science achievement by identifying and intervening with students who may have more negative attitudes toward science, prior to the implementation of core content, may have value.

August 2007
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The Power of Positive Attitudes: Student Outcomes on a Science Education Curriculum About Drugs of Abuse

Eric C. Twombly, Georgia State University, Kristen D. Holtz, KDHRC & Greta K. Tessman, Emerson College and Tufts University
Working Paper 07-004

Science literacy is critical for civil society, and attitudes toward science in school have been found to be strong predictors of achievement. Science literacy is of particular concern for the field of substance abuse research. This paper reports the results of an evaluation of a science education curriculum for late elementary school students on drugs of abuse and explores the role that attitudes toward science and attitudes towards drugs played in predicting student outcomes. The main finding is that students with positive attitudes toward science before the implementation of the curriculum tend to show greater acquisition of knowledge. In contrast, students with less protective attitudes toward drugs were found to show greater knowledge acquisition. This study suggests that the development of new pedagogical methods to improve science achievement by identifying and intervening with students who may have more negative attitudes toward science, prior to the implementation of core content, may have value.

August 2007
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Multimedia Science Education on Drugs of Abuse: A Preliminary Evaluation of Effectiveness for Adolescents

Eric C. Twombly, Georgia State University, Kristen D. Holtz, KDHRC & Greta K. Tessman, Emerson College and Tufts University
Working Paper 07-003

This paper reports on the development and evaluation of a science education-based multimedia prevention curriculum on drugs of abuse. The evaluation used a pretest/post-test quasi-experimental design in which sixth, seventh and eighth-grade students in the treatment group (N=611) were exposed to the curriculum and those in the control group (N=731) were not. Eight charter schools in four states participated.
Descriptive and multivariate approaches were used to analyze data from knowledge and attitude measures. The findings suggest that the multimedia approach significantly improved knowledge about drugs of abuse in the treatment group, providing preliminary support for the approach of using multimedia science education as a health education and prevention tool in schools.

August 2007
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Multimedia Science Education on Drugs of Abuse: A Preliminary Evaluation of Effectiveness for Adolescents

Eric C. Twombly, Georgia State University, Kristen D. Holtz, KDHRC & Greta K. Tessman, Emerson College and Tufts University
Working Paper 07-003

This paper reports on the development and evaluation of a science education-based multimedia prevention curriculum on drugs of abuse. The evaluation used a pretest/post-test quasi-experimental design in which sixth, seventh and eighth-grade students in the treatment group (N=611) were exposed to the curriculum and those in the control group (N=731) were not. Eight charter schools in four states participated.
Descriptive and multivariate approaches were used to analyze data from knowledge and attitude measures. The findings suggest that the multimedia approach significantly improved knowledge about drugs of abuse in the treatment group, providing preliminary support for the approach of using multimedia science education as a health education and prevention tool in schools.

August 2007
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A Preliminary Evaluation of the Effects of a Science-Education Curriculum on Changes in Knowledge of Drugs in Youth

Kristen D. Holtz, KDHRC & Eric C. Twombly, Georgia State University
Working Paper 07-001

Drug and alcohol use among youth remains at pervasively high levels, but students are receiving less school-based prevention. Infusing health information into core curricula may be a valuable prevention approach. Therefore, behavior change theory was used to develop a science education curriculum on drugs for fourth- and fifth-grade students, which was then evaluated using a pretest/post-test quasi-experimental design. Exposure to the curriculum was associated with a change in knowledge, and other characteristics like grade level also played a role. More positive attitudes toward science at pretest predicted greater knowledge change, and students who knew less at the start showed a greater change in knowledge. Results of this evaluation may support the efficacy of the curriculum and the utility of combining behavior change theory with educational approaches.

August 2007
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A Preliminary Evaluation of the Effects of a Science-Education Curriculum on Changes in Knowledge of Drugs in Youth

Kristen D. Holtz, KDHRC & Eric C. Twombly, Georgia State University
Working Paper 07-001

Drug and alcohol use among youth remains at pervasively high levels, but students are receiving less school-based prevention. Infusing health information into core curricula may be a valuable prevention approach. Therefore, behavior change theory was used to develop a science education curriculum on drugs for fourth- and fifth-grade students, which was then evaluated using a pretest/post-test quasi-experimental design. Exposure to the curriculum was associated with a change in knowledge, and other characteristics like grade level also played a role. More positive attitudes toward science at pretest predicted greater knowledge change, and students who knew less at the start showed a greater change in knowledge. Results of this evaluation may support the efficacy of the curriculum and the utility of combining behavior change theory with educational approaches.

August 2007
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A Science Education Curriculum to Curb Youth Drug Use: Implications for Practice and Public Policy

Eric C. Twombly, Georgia State University & Kristen D. Holtz, KDH Research & Communication

Science education offers a unique opportunity to infuse persuasive health information into core curricula in a crowded school environment. This brief presents the results of an evaluation of a multimedia science education curriculum on drugs of abuse developed with funding from the National Institute on Drug Abuse. Students exposed to the curriculum showed increases in knowledge, providing tentative support for the effectiveness of this approach.

November 2007
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A Science Education Curriculum to Curb Youth Drug Use: Implications for Practice and Public Policy

Eric C. Twombly, Georgia State University & Kristen D. Holtz, KDH Research & Communication

Science education offers a unique opportunity to infuse persuasive health information into core curricula in a crowded school environment. This brief presents the results of an evaluation of a multimedia science education curriculum on drugs of abuse developed with funding from the National Institute on Drug Abuse. Students exposed to the curriculum showed increases in knowledge, providing tentative support for the effectiveness of this approach.

November 2007
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Drug Abuse Education & Prevention

Programs in this focus area offer school-based efforts to stem the diversion and abuse of prescription drugs; craft science-based mass media messages to prevent youth tobacco use; arm community-based organizations with tools to prevent e-cigarette use; and use social marketing to prevent substance abuse.

Staff Contact
Kristen Holtz, PhD
President and Founder