The Effect of Contextual Risk Factors on the Effectiveness of Brief Personality-Targeted Interventions for Adolescent Alcohol Use and Misuse: A Cluster-Randomized Trial

Alcohol Clin Exp Res. 2019 May;43(5):997-1006. doi: 10.1111/acer.14016. Epub 2019 Apr 8.


Background: A range of school-based prevention programs has been developed and used to prevent, delay, or reduce alcohol use among adolescents. Most of these programs have been evaluated at the community-level impact. However, the effect of contextual risk factors has rarely been considered in the evaluation of these programs. The aim of this study was to investigate the potential moderating effects of 2 important contextual risk factors (i.e., socioeconomic status [SES] and peer victimization) on the effectiveness of the school-based personality-targeted interventions (Preventure program) in reducing adolescent alcohol use over a 2-year period using a cluster-randomized trial.

Methods: High-risk adolescents were identified using personality scores on the Substance Use Risk Profile Scale and randomized to intervention and control groups. Two 90-minute cognitive behavioral therapy-based group sessions targeted 1 of 4 personality risk profiles: Anxiety Sensitivity, Hopelessness, Impulsivity, or Sensation Seeking. Multilevel linear modeling of alcohol use, binge drinking, and drinking-related harm was conducted to assess the moderating effect of baseline peer victimization and SES.

Results: Results indicated that the Preventure program was equally beneficial to all adolescents, regardless of SES and victimization history, in terms of their alcohol outcomes and related harm. Receiving the intervention was additionally beneficial for adolescents reporting peer victimization regarding their alcohol-related harm compared to nonvictimized youth (β = -0.29, SE = 0.11, p = 0.014).

Conclusions: Findings suggest that the content of personality-targeted interventions is beneficial for all high-risk youth regardless of their SES or experience of peer victimization. The current study suggests that using targeted approaches, such as targeting underlying personality risk factors, may be the most appropriate substance use prevention strategy for high-risk youth, as it is beneficial for all high-risk youth regardless of their contextual risk factors.

Trial registration: NCT00344474.

Keywords: Adolescents; Peer Victimization; Personality-Targeted Interventions; School-Based Alcohol Use Prevention; Socioeconomic Status.

Publication types

  • Randomized Controlled Trial
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adolescent Behavior / psychology*
  • Alcoholism / economics
  • Alcoholism / psychology*
  • Alcoholism / therapy
  • Cluster Analysis
  • Cognitive Behavioral Therapy / economics
  • Cognitive Behavioral Therapy / methods
  • Cognitive Behavioral Therapy / trends*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Peer Influence*
  • Personality
  • Risk Factors
  • Socioeconomic Factors*
  • Surveys and Questionnaires
  • Treatment Outcome
  • Underage Drinking / economics
  • Underage Drinking / psychology*
  • Underage Drinking / trends

Associated data