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Table 1 Effectiveness elements of drug use prevention planning at school

From: Drug use prevention projects in schools in Vitória, Brazil: quality analysis and improvement proposals

Element Definition Reference
Life skills content Training in personal skills such as negotiation, self-esteem promotion and decision-making strategies Winters et al. (2007): It is the “primary focus” (p. 375) of the adolescent-targeted prevention.
Participation of out-of-school agents Active participation of the community in the project implementation, through partnership with companies and health and security agents, etc. Sandler et al. (2014): Programs with school-community partnership show “slightly higher” effects (p. 253) when compared to those without this partnership.
Participation of students as mediators Students play an active role in the implementation of activities. Fernandez et al. (2002): The most effective interventions are implemented with the participation of the students.
Positive social relationships content Activities that promote the creation or strengthening of positive social networks (e.g. family-student, family-school, student-community). Markham et al. (2012): A positive school ethos makes drug use by students less likely.
Interactive/experiential methodologies Techniques that nurture contact and communication between participants; practice of taught skills or the experience of their own experiences and reflections, in a constructive and reflective way. Gázquez et al. (2009): The most effective prevention methods are the interactive ones.
Participation of families Family is actively involved in project implementation, at least in some of the proposed activities Peters et al. (2009): Parental involvement is an additional preventive element, reducing the likelihood of using drugs and of inadequate sexual and eating behaviours.
Quality evaluation Rigorous and of quality evaluation Winters et al. (2007): The evaluation of needs produces a realistic plan; the evaluation of the outcomes of this plan shows the progress and the effectiveness of the prevention plan.
Content reinforcement Sessions to be held as reinforcement after the intervention ends Gázquez et al. (2009): Preventive effects typically do not last or gradually decrease, suggesting the need for reinforcement sessions.
Design based on the participants’ needs Content and methodology adjusted to the particularities or needs of the participants, including age, gender, culture and/or socioeconomic status Winters et al. (2007): “Effective programs appreciated the importance that prevention has to be adjusted to maximize their relevance for the target populations” (p. 375).
Adoption of a theoretical model Explanation of the theory underlying the project Fernandez et al. (2002): The most effective interventions address the social influence on drug use.
Sandler et al. (2014): Programs following the cognitive behavioural model show broader preventive effects.
Duration/periodicity Intensity of the intervention Cuijpers (2002): More intense programs are more effective than less intense ones.
Gottfredson and Wilson (2003): It is important to pay attention to a more sensitive measure of the intensity of interventions because the longest ones are not necessarily the most effective.
Gázquez et al. (2009): Preventive effects typically do not last or gradually decrease, suggesting the need for ongoing interventions.
Design by the whole school community Participation of the whole school community in the project Rowling (2003): “The participation of all school community members is an essential principle that underpins health promotion practice” (p. 17).
Inclusion in the school curriculum Project is part of the school curriculum and of the educational objectives of the school. Berkowitz and Bier (2005): The integration of prevention of risk behaviour in the academic curriculum is a strategy of effective programs.
Alternative activities to drug use Extracurricular activities, generally of positive social engagement, alternative to those with health risk Carmona and Stewart (1997): More effective programs include alternative activities; preferably, these activities should be part of the everyday network of community resources.