Recent developments in intervention research: Prevention through education and persuasion

First published: 10 May 2019 | Last updated: 10 June 2019

This presentation will provide an overview of developments in the past 6 years in education and persuasion interventions involving school-based education programs, college based programs and those involving warning signs, ‘counter-advertising’ and drinking guidelines.

It draws on selected seminal papers based on original research and systematic reviews and meta-analysis. It will illustrate the main conceptual models and theories that underlie this research.  The interventions are assessed with regard to several outcome criteria: impact on drinking levels of the focus populations of the intervention, impact on high risk drinking or impact on drinking-related problems.  They are also assessed in terms of quality of the research evidence and the longer-term stability of any impacts noted.

While there is some promise among interventions using education and persuasion techniques, those that show promise are in the minority. The most do not demonstrate a stable change in reducing drinking, high risk drinking or reduction in alcohol-related harm.  Those that do are multidimensional interventions, with aspects that include policy dimensions, in addition to information dissemination and persuasion techniques.

It is time to give serious consideration and greater resources to rethinking the roles of education and persuasion to look beyond conveying information to individuals – an inefficient and largely ineffective technique with regard to controlling alcohol-related harm. Future initiatives need to consider revised roles for education and persuasion: e.g. as a method for illustrating the rationales for new alcohol policies and the public good that can emerge from them, and designing information campaigns that focus on policy makers and policy advisors.


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Dr Norman Giesbrecht