BACKGROUND: Although the initial effectiveness of psychosocial strategies programming in preventing smoking and other drug abuse among adolescents has been well established through literature reviews and meta-analyses, much less evidence exists for the long-term follow-up success of these interventions. The primary goal of this paper, therefore, is to summarize the effectiveness of published program evaluation studies that have followed adolescents across the transitional period between junior high and high school for a period of at least 2 years.
METHODS: Studies for inclusion in this review were accessed primarily through a computerized search of Medline, Healthstar, and PsychINFO databases. Intervention studies that met five core criteria were retained for review. Two authors independently abstracted data on study characteristics, methodology, and program outcomes.
RESULTS: Search results yielded 25 studies suitable for examination. The majority of these studies reported significant program effects for long-term smoking, alcohol, and marijuana outcomes, while indicating a fairly consistent magnitude of program effects.
CONCLUSIONS: This review provides long-term empirical evidence of the effectiveness of social influences programs in preventing or reducing substance use for up to 15 years after completion of programming. However, this conclusion is still somewhat tenuous given the lack of significant program effects reported in several studies and the great variability that existed in the level of internal and external validity across all studies.