1m grant awarded for the effects of alcohol education on children

Wednesday, 14 December 2011


Alcohol misuse by young people in the UK is amongst the highest in Europe. Despite some signs that overall levels are falling, the amount of alcohol consumed by those who drink remains high.

Alcohol misuse by young people in the UK is amongst the highest in Europe. Despite some signs that overall levels are falling, the amount of alcohol consumed by those who drink remains high.  

Alongside advocating regulatory mechanisms such as minimum alcohol unit pricing, health professionals have tried to develop new educational interventions to support those young people who decide not to drink and to try and reduce alcohol-related harms in those that decide to drink. However, research evidence from the UK is limited and there is a clear need to find out what works in this age group.

The School Health and Alcohol Harm Reduction Programme (SHAHRP) is a classroom based intervention delivered by teachers. Although originally developed in Australia it was recently adapted for delivery in Northern Ireland by local health educators.

Pilot evaluation research showed that it was effective in reducing the amount drunk by young people, increased alcohol related knowledge and healthier attitudes to alcohol, and reduced the amount of harm young people experienced from their own and others’ drinking.

A team led by Professor David Foxcroft, Professor of Community Psychology and Public Health at Oxford Brookes University and Dr Harry Sumnall from Liverpool John Moores University have now been awarded £1 million by the NHS National Institute for Health Research Public Health Research Programme to undertake a Randomised Control Trial of the effectiveness of SHAHRP in combination with a parental skills training component.

Professor David Foxcroft, Professor of Community Psychology and Public Health at Oxford Brookes University, said: "Young people in the UK are drinking more than ever, and are starting to drink regularly from a young age, with serious consequences for their health and wellbeing. The STAMPP trial will make an important contribution to the evidence for alcohol education in schools across Northern Ireland, Scotland, Wales and England. We don't have much high quality research evidence from the UK so this is a very significant development for alcohol research and alcohol prevention, funded by the National Institute for Health Research."

Academic collaborators include leading researchers from the University of Liverpool, Queens University Belfast, and the Clinical Research Support Centre in Belfast. The work also benefits from the support of health and educational services in Northern Ireland and Scotland. The work begins in November 2011 and will end in January 2016.

The research project, called STAMPP (SHAHRP and TATI [Talking to Children About Tough Issues] Alcohol Misuse Prevention Programme), will include up to 10,000 pupils in 100 schools based across Northern Ireland and Glasgow. It aims to find out whether the intervention can reduce harmful alcohol use in young people. If shown to be effective, funding will be sought to try and introduce STAMPP into other schools across the UK.

To read more about the trial please visit the Current Controlled Trials website. More information on the Department of Social Work and Public Health is available from our Oxford Brookes webpages.