Multiple behavior interventions to prevent substance abuse and increase energy balance behaviors in middle school students

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This study examined the effectiveness of two transtheoretical model-tailored, computer-delivered interventions designed to impact multiple substance use or energy balance behaviors in a middle school population recruited in schools. Twenty middle schools in Rhode Island including sixth grade students (N = 4,158) were stratified and randomly assigned by school to either a substance use prevention (decreasing smoking and alcohol) or an energy balance (increasing physical activity, fruit and vegetable consumption, and limiting TV time) intervention group in 2007. Each intervention involved five in-class contacts over a 3-year period with assessments at 12, 24, and 36 months. Main outcomes were analyzed using random effects modeling. In the full energy balance group and in subsamples at risk and not at risk at baseline, strong effects were found for physical activity, healthy diet, and reducing TV time, for both categorical and continuous outcomes. Despite no direct treatment, the energy balance group also showed significantly lower smoking and alcohol use over time than the substance use prevention group. The energy balance intervention demonstrated strong effects across all behaviors over 3 years among middle school students. The substance use prevention intervention was less effective than the energy balance intervention in preventing both smoking and alcohol use over 3 years in middle school students. The lack of a true control group and unrepresented secular trends suggest the need for further study. © 2013 Society of Behavioral Medicine.

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Translational Behavioral Medicine