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Talk About Alcohol

Evidence rating
2
Cost rating
1
Review: September 2017

Talk About Alcohol is a school-based intervention aimed at reducing alcohol related problems in young people between the ages of 11 and 18.

Teachers teach young people about the harmful effects of alcohol and provide them with strategies for refraining from alcohol use.

EIF Programme Assessment

Evidence rating
2

Talk About Alcohol has preliminary evidence of improving a child outcome, but we cannot be confident that the programme caused the improvement.

What does the evidence rating mean?

Level 2 indicates that the programme has evidence of improving a child outcome from a study involving at least 20 participants, representing 60% of the sample, using validated instruments. 

This programme does not receive a rating of 3 as its best evidence is not from a rigorously conducted RCT or QED evaluation.

Cost rating
1

A rating of 1 indicates that a programme has a low cost to set up and deliver, compared with other interventions reviewed by EIF. This is equivalent to an estimated unit cost of less than £100.

Child outcomes

According to the best available evidence for this programme's impact, it can achieve the following positive outcomes for children:

Preventing substance abuse

Delay in onset drinking - based on study 1a

Improved knowledge about alcohol - based on study 1a

Delay in onset drinking - based on study 1b

Talk About Alcohol

Key programme characteristics

Who is it for?

The best available evidence for this programme relates to the following age-groups:

  • Preadolescents
  • Adolescents

How is it delivered?

The best available evidence for this programme relates to implementation through these delivery models:

  • Group

Where is it delivered?

The best available evidence for this programme relates to its implementation in these settings:

  • Secondary school

The programme may also be delivered in these settings:

  • Sixth-form or FE college

How is it targeted?

The best available evidence for this programme relates to its implementation as:

  • Universal

Where has it been implemented?

United Kingdom

UK provision

This programme has been implemented in the UK.

UK evaluation

This programme’s best evidence includes evaluation conducted in the UK.

Spotlight sets

EIF includes this programme in the following Spotlight sets:

  • School-based social & emotional learning
Talk About Alcohol

About the programme

What happens during delivery?

How is it delivered?
  • Talk About Alcohol is delivered in six sessions of 50 minutes duration each by one teacher to groups of children.
What happens during the intervention?
  • Teachers are provided with free tools to encourage students to make informed decisions and feel confidence to manage difficult situations. 
  • The Talk about Alcohol programme is designed so that teachers can ‘pick and mix’ from a range of activities, films, activity sheets, and resource according the age, ability and experience of the group. 
  • Six lessons are developed under the following topics: Assessing knowledge, alcohol and its effects, social and physical, units and guidelines, alcohol and the law, and staying safe.
  • Information booklets are also made available to students and their parents.

What are the implementation requirements?

Who can deliver it?
  • The practitioner who delivers this programme is an PSHE professional, teacher, or youth leader with QCF-6 level qualifications.
What are the training requirements?
  • Practitioner training is recommended but not obligatory. 
  • The practitioners have two hours of programme training. Booster training of practitioners is not required. 
  • The PSHE professional, teacher, or youth leader are trained By AET specialist staff. The TAA programme can be self-administered but two hours training in its methodology and interactive resources is recommended.
How are the practitioners supervised?
  • Practitioners (PSHE leads, teachers and youth workers) are supported with six newsletters of updates and implementation/guidance advice each year as well as with phone/email support ongoing.
What are the systems for maintaining fidelity?
  • Training manual 
  • Other printed material 
  • Other online material 
  • Face-to-face training 
  • The TAA programme is fully supported online via www.alcoholeducationtrust.org, organised by topic and by year group and with an interactive learning zone via www.talkaboutalcohol.com 
  • Practitioners are further supported with bi termly updates, new resources, changes in the law or policy. 
  • They can also email or phone for advice on the programme and its implementation or delivery.
Is there a licensing requirement?

There is no licence required to run this programme.

How does it work? (Theory of Change)

How does it work?
  • Talk About Alcohol assumes that young people will be more likely to delay the age at which they start drinking and refrain from drinking too much if they know about the social and physical effects of alcohol, the law, social norms and resilience strategies. 
  • Young people are therefore taught about the harmful physical and social effects of alcohol and are provided with strategies for making healthy balanced decisions about when to drink or if to drink, and how much to drink. 
  • In the short term, young people are more confident in resisting the temptation or peer pressure to drink.
  • In the longer term, young people will delay the age at which they start drinking (after age 15) and will be less likely to binge drink.
Intended outcomes

Supporting children's mental health and wellbeing
Enhancing school achievement & employment
Preventing crime, violence and antisocial behaviour
Preventing substance abuse
Preventing risky sexual behaviour & teen pregnancy

Talk About Alcohol

About the evidence

Talk about Alcohol's most rigorous evidence comes from a QED which was conducted in the UK. This is a 2-level study, which has identified a statistically signifcant positive impact on child outcomes. 

A programme receives the same rating as its most robust study, and so receives a level-2 overall.

Study 1a

Citation: Lynch et al., (2013) Lynch et al., (2014)
Design: QED
Country: United Kingdom
Sample: 33 schools, 4410 children aged 12-13
Timing: Baseline (T1); 6-months post-baseline (T2); 16-18 months post-baseline (T3)
Child outcomes: Delay in onset drinking
Improved knowledge about alcohol
Other outcomes: None measured
Study rating: 2

Lynch, S., Styles, B., Dawson, A., Worth, J., Kerr, D., Lloyd, J. (2013). Talk about alcohol: an evaluation of the Alcohol Education Trust’s intervention in secondary schools. 

Available at:
https://www.nfer.ac.uk/publications

Lynch, S., Dawson, A., & Worth, J. (2014). Talk About Alcohol: impact of a school-based alcohol intervention on early adolescents. International journal of health promotion and education, 52(5), 283-299.

Available at:
http://www.tandfonline.com

Study design and sample

The first study is a QED.

The intervention group was selected from schools that had expressed an interest in the materials but which had not yet received them. Comparison schools were selected using propensity score matching to ensure that the school-level characteristics of both groups matched as closely as possible. Comparison and intervention schools were matched according to region, percentage of students eligible for free school meals, urban/rural, Ofsted school effectiveness.

This study was conducted in England. The sample included 33 schools, with a total of 4410 children aged 12-13. There were 2142 children in 16 intervention schools, and 2268 children in 17 comparison schools. Approximately 50% of the entire sample were female. 65% of the intervention group were white, and 79% of the comparison group were white. 

Measures

  • Onset of drinking was measured using a survey questionnaire (child self-report)

  • Knowledge of alcohol and its effects was measured using survey questionnaire (child self-report). 
  • Frequency of drinking was measured using a survey questionnaire (child self-report).

Findings

This study identified statistically significant positive impact on a number of child outcomes.

This includes onset of drinking, and knowledge of alcohol and its effects.

This study identified statistically significant positive impact on a number of child outcomes. The conclusions that can be drawn from this study are limited by methodological issues pertaining to the treatment and comparison groups not being generated by sufficiently robust methods and unequivalent groups, hence why a higher rating is not achieved.   

More Less about study 1a

Study 1b

Citation: Lynch et al., 2015
Design: QED
Country: United Kingdom
Sample: 33 schools, 4410 children aged 12-13
Timing: 3 years post-baseline (T4)
Child outcomes: Delay in onset drinking
Other outcomes: None measured
Study rating: 2

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.

Available at:
https://www.nfer.ac.uk/publications

Study 1b describes follow-up findings from study 1a. 

  • Follow-up assessments were one year post-intervention.
  • Outcomes measured included: Onset of drinking (survey questionnaire, self-report), Knowledge of alcohol (survey questionnaire, self-report), and Frequency of drinking (survey questionnaire, self-report).
  • This study identified statistically significant positive impact on child outcomes. This includes onset of drinking (questionnaire survey, self-report).  
More Less about study 1b

Other studies

The following studies were identified for this programme but did not count towards the programme's overall evidence rating. A programme receives the same rating as its most robust study or studies.

Gutman, L, (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). UCL. Institute of Education.

Published November 2017   |   Last updated February 2019