Overview of preventive interventions addressing underage drinking: state of the evidence and steps toward public health impact

Alcohol Res Health. 2009;32(1):53-66.


Because underage drinking is a serious public health concern and associated with numerous detrimental consequences, many interventions to prevent underage drinking have been developed. However, the effectiveness of all these interventions has not been proven. A recent review of the relevant literature that used stringent criteria for the types of studies and interventions included, as well as for the evaluation and classification of the studies, found that out of more than 400 studies screened, only 127 could be evaluated for efficacy and only 41 showed some evidence of effects. In addition, several areas were identified in which intervention research could be strengthened. For example, increased coverage is needed for understudied areas of intervention (e.g., specific types of interventions or interventions in specific populations). Other aspects of the knowledge base in this area that can benefit from further improvement include, among others, the availability of longitudinal studies, availability of information on alcohol-specific outcomes, or availability of replication studies. The standards for determining and reporting evidence of effectiveness in different studies also need to be clarified. Finally, prevention research needs to adopt public health impact-oriented models to accurately determine the potential of existing interventions to prevent underage drinking and its consequences.