Aims: The School Health and Alcohol Harm Reduction Project (SHAHRP study) aimed to reduce alcohol-related harm in secondary school students.
Design: The study used a quasi-experimental research design in which randomly selected and allocated intervention and comparison groups were assessed at eight, 20 and 32 months after baseline.
Setting: Metropolitan, government secondary schools in Perth, Western Australia.
Participants: The sample involved over 2300 students. The retention rate was 75.9% over 32 months.
Intervention: The evidence-based intervention, a curriculum programme with an explicit harm minimization goal, was conducted in two phases over a 2-year period.
Measures: Knowledge, attitude, total alcohol consumption, risky consumption, context of use, harm associated with own use and harm associated with other people's use of alcohol.
Findings: There were significant knowledge, attitude and behavioural effects early in the study, some of which were maintained for the duration of the study. The intervention group had significantly greater knowledge during the programme phases, and significantly safer alcohol-related attitudes to final follow-up, but both scores were converging by 32 months. Intervention students were significantly more likely to be non-drinkers or supervised drinkers than were comparison students. During the first and second programme phases, intervention students consumed 31.4% and 31.7% less alcohol. Differences were converging 17 months after programme delivery. Intervention students were 25.7%, 33.8% and 4.2% less likely to drink to risky levels from first follow-up onwards. The intervention reduced the harm that young people reported associated with their own use of alcohol, with intervention students experiencing 32.7%, 16.7% and 22.9% less harm from first follow-up onwards. There was no impact on the harm that students reported from other people's use of alcohol.
Conclusions: The results of this study support the use of harm reduction goals and classroom approaches in school drug education.