Introduction and aims: The contextual and temporal factors of post-school celebratory events ('Schoolies') place young people at elevated risk of excessive drinking compared with other social occasions. This study investigates the impact of an applied theatre prevention program 'Choices' in reducing the risk of drinking and other risk behaviours during Schoolies celebrations.
Design and methods: Choices was delivered in the last term of Year 12 across 28 North Queensland schools. A total of 352 school leavers (43.1% male, mean age = 17.14 years) completed a questionnaire at Whitsunday Schoolies, Queensland, Australia on 23-24 November 2010. Nearly 49% of respondents had attended Choices. The survey included measures of alcohol use, illicit drug use and associated problems during Schoolies and a month prior to Schoolies.
Results: After controlling for gender and pre-Schoolies drinking, school leavers who attended Choices were significantly less likely to report illicit drug use (OR = 0.51, P < 0.05) and problem behaviours (OR = 0.40, P < 0.01) than those who did not attend Choices. There was, however, no intervention effect in risky drinking (i.e. drank on 5 or more days, typical amount five or more standard drink and binge drank on 3 or more days) at Schoolies (OR = 0.92, P = 0.80).
Discussion and conclusions: Delivery of a youth-specific applied theatre prevention program employing a harm minimisation framework may be effective in reducing high-risk behaviours associated with alcohol consumption at celebratory events, even if young people expect to engage in excessive alcohol consumption.
© 2012 Australasian Professional Society on Alcohol and other Drugs.