How Well Do They Work?

Brief and Effective Wellness with Substance Abuse Prevention and Recovery!

Below we present some of the published research findings supporting the effectiveness of wellness-based prevention programs for influencing both health risk and health-enhancing behaviors among youth and adults.  Two of these programs are listed in NREPP, as well as in other evidence-based data bases.  They include the SPORT Prevention Plus Wellness program for youth, and the InShape Prevention Plus Wellness program for young adults.  

SPORT Prevention Plus Wellness Program 

SPORT has been evaluated in several research studies funded by the NationalInstitutes of Health (NIH).  An overview of these studies, their outcomes and research citations are listed below.   

    SPORT Study I: Young Adolescents

An initial study of the first version of SPORT evaluated with 465 middle school students showed that over time, young adolescents given the brief wellness-based prevention lesson significantly:

  • reduced initiation of alcohol use,
  • reduced alcohol problems,
  • improved protective factors like self-control,
  • reduced risk factors like perceived peer use of alcohol,
  • increased moderate physical activity,
  • increased vigorous exercise, three months after intervention, and
  • increased parent-youth communication for parents receiving mailed communication materials.

SPORT Study II: Older Adolescents

A second study of a subsequent version of SPORT tested among 604 high school students showed that compared to youth in a health education control group, the brief wellness-based prevention lesson and flyer significantly:

  • reduced quantity of alcohol use,
  • reduced frequency of alcohol use,
  • reduced binge drinking,
  • reduced the length of drinking,
  • reduced the stage of initiating drinking,
  • reduced frequency of cigarette smoking, and
  • increased moderate physical activity three months after intervention. 

In addition, one year after baseline, adolescents receiving SPORT who were using drugs prior to intervention, compared to youth in a control group who were using drugs, showed significant: 

  • reductions in binge drinking,
  • reductions in frequency of cigarette smoking,
  • reductions in marijuana use,
  • reductions in the initiation of cigarette use,
  • reductions in initiation of marijuana use,
  • increases in vigorous exercise, and
  • increases in moderate physical activity.  

The effect sizes of behavior outcomes from the brief wellness-based prevention intervention ranged from small to large.  Effects were small to medium for youth in the entire sample, and were generally medium to large for the drug using subgroup. 

SPORT Study III: Parent Materials

A third study of the stand-alone parent SPORT print materials program among 684 high school students showed that compared to youth given health flyers, three parent postcards/flyers significantly:

  • reduced frequency of alcohol use,
  • reduced alcohol-related problems,
  • improved adolescent self-control and parental monitoring, and among drug using youth
  • reduced frequency of alcohol use,
  • reduced frequency of marijuana use,
  • reduced initiation of alcohol use, and
  • reduced initiation of marijuana use four months after intervention. 

SPORT Study IV: Cross-Cultural Evaluation 

A fourth study evaluating SPORT translated into Turkish language and implemented among 215 high school students in Istanbul, Turkey showed that compared to youth in a control group, the brief wellness-based prevention lesson significantly:    

  • increased vigorous and moderate physical activity,
  • increased vegetable and fruit consumption,
  • increased the duration of sleep,
  • improved exercise self-efficacy,
  • improved dietary self-efficacy,
  • reduced the number of days in an unhealthy mental condition, and
  • reduced the number of days youth were unable to do school activities three months after intervention. 

Together, research published in refereed scientific journals show that the SPORT wellness-based prevention intervention has a positive effect on both substance use and wellness behaviors among young and older adolescents in a single-lesson in-person format, and substance use behaviors among older adolescents in a print format.  The brief in-person lesson was found to both prevent and reduce substance use behaviors and problems, with some behavior outcomes lasting up to year.  

The study evaluating SPORT in Turkey highlights the viability and strength of the wellness-based prevention approach for impacting multiple health behaviors among youth from diverse cultures.  Additional recent research has supported findings that brief wellness-based prevention interventions can increase health-enhancing habits like fruit and vegetable consumption and stress management, while reducing substance use among American adolescents.   

InShape Prevention Plus Wellness Program

Like SPORT, the InShape Prevention Plus Wellness program was evaluated in a number of research studies funded by NIH.  The results of two of these studies published in scientific journals are presented below.   

InShape Study I

An initial study of an early version of InShape was evaluated with over 300 college students and showed that, compared to a control group, young adults given the brief wellness-based lesson significantly:

  • reduced frequency and heavy use of alcohol,
  • reduced driving after drinking,
  • reduced initiation, quantity, and heavy use of marijuana,
  • increased hours of sleep,
  • increased moderate exercise,
  • increased three types of healthy eating, and
  • improved social and spiritual health-related quality of life. 

In addition, an analysis of the outcome data one year after baseline found that, compared to young adults in a control, those receiving InShape continued to show significant: 

  • reductions in driving after drinking,
  • increases in moderate exercise,
  • improvements in social health-related quality of life,
  • improvements in spiritual health-related quality of life, and
  • improvements in recent activity. 

InShape Study II 

A subsequent study of InShape in a computer-based format with 200 college-aged young adults found that, compared to a computer control, students given the InShape wellness-based prevention lesson had significantly: 

  • Less intentions to drink alcohol,
  • Less intentions to smoke cigarettes,
  • Less intentions to use marijuana,
  • More positive alcohol use social norms,
  • More positive cigarette smoking social norms, and
  • More positive marijuana use social norms. 

These published research findings indicate that InShape is effective in preventing and reducing substance use and related risk factors, and increasing health promoting behaviors among young adults.  It was also found to enhance various measures of health-related quality of life of college students.  Some of the positive outcomes from the brief InShape lesson lasted for up to a year.  InShape is an effective wellness-based prevention intervention in a single in-person lesson, and has potential as a self-administered computer-based prevention intervention.    

READ about the many advantages of using wellness-based prevention over other alcohol and drug abuse prevention and recovery programs!