SPORT PPW Program Increases Middle School Students’ Healthy Habit Intentions and Perceived Harmfulness of Substance Use

SPORT PPW Program Increases Middle School Students’ Healthy Habit Intentions and Perceived Harmfulness of Substance Use

The SPORT Prevention Plus Wellness (PPW) program was implemented in two junior high/middle schools near Rolla, Missouri during the fall semester, 2022.

A total of 194 students in 11 health and physical education classes completed pretest and posttest surveys.  Most students were male (57%), 13 years old (42%), and Caucasian (78%).

Results showed pretest to posttest increases in the percentage of students with intentions to engage in all six assessed healthy habits, ranging from 11% to 5% increases per habit. 

The healthy habit increases are shown below.

  • Get physical activity most days a week: 5%
  • Get 8 or more hours sleep most nights: 9%
  • Eat fruits & vegetables most days: 10%
  • Eat a healthy breakfast most days: 7%
  • Practice stress control most days: 10%
  • Set health and fitness goals: 6%

There was also a pretest to posttest increase in the percentage of students who perceived all five measured substances as harmful to their health or healthy habits, ranging from 13% to 9% per substance.

The percentages of perceived harmfulness per substance is shown below.

  • Alcohol: 11%
  • Cigarettes: 11%
  • Marijuana: 13%
  • E-Cigarettes: 13%
  • Opioids: 9%

At posttest, most students were unlikely or very unlikely to try any of the five substances, including:

  • Alcohol: 85%
  • Cigarettes: 95%
  • Marijuana: 93%
  • E-Cigarettes: 91%
  • Opioids: 85% 

Among participating students, 90% said that the SPORT PPW lesson will help them avoid drug use and improve their healthy habits at least a little to a great deal.

Students reported what they liked best about the SPORT PPW lesson, in their own words, including:

  • To help you not do drugs.
  • It made me want to exercise more.
  • It helped me with goal setting.
  • It was fun to learn about everything.
  • Makes me realize doing drugs are bad.
  • It teaches you about the effects of alcohol and drugs.
  • This lesson made me want to set good goals for myself.
  • This lesson taught me the causes and effects of drugs and alcohol.
  • I like how it will help me with my health and causes me to make better decisions.
  • It makes me want to try healthy breakfast.
  • I liked most when we talked about better sleep because I've been struggling to get sleep.
  • I liked that it gave examples on how to get physical activity and (make) healthy choices.

In conclusion, the SPORT Prevention Plus Wellness lesson had immediate positive effects on middle school students’ intentions to engage in critical healthy lifestyle behaviors and perceived harmfulness of multiple substances.

Student comments support the quantitative results and indicate that youth felt the SPORT PPW program increased their healthy habits and the likelihood of avoiding future drug use.

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