Clayton, R. R., Cattarello, A. M., & Johnstone, B. M. (1996). The effectiveness of Drug Abuse Resistance Education (Project DARE): 5-year follow-up results. Preventive medicine, 25(3), 307-318.
Location in the Matrix; Methodological Rigor; Outcome:
Individuals, General, Highly Proactive; Rigorous; No evidence of an effect
What police practice or strategy was examined?
The study reported the results of a 5-year, longitudinal evaluation of the effectiveness of Drug Abuse Resistance Education (DARE), a school-based primary drug prevention curriculum designed for introduction during the last year of elementary education. Students received 16 weeks of protocol-driven instruction from uniformed police officers, about drugs and their effects, peer pressure resistance skills, decision-making skills, enhancing self-esteem, and a series of other skills and knowledge that help them resist using drugs. To deliver these courses, DARE officers received a structured 80-hour training course covering knowledge related to drugs as well as teaching techniques and classroom management skills.
How was the intervention evaluated?
The study evaluated the long-term effectiveness of DARE using a 5-year longitudinal design. At the beginning of the 1987-1988 school year, 31 elementary schools in Lexington were randomly assigned to a treatment group that received DARE (23 schools) and a comparison group that did not (8 schools). Although students in the comparison schools did not receive DARE, they received other drug education lessons in the health curriculum; these varied across schools and thus were not protocol-driven. A 154-item questionnaire was conducted in both treatment and comparison schools prior to and after the DARE curriculum and also each subsequent year through the final data collection effort in the spring of 1992, in order to collect data regarding students’ drug use, cigarette and alcohol use, drug-specific attitudes, and peer pressure resistance.
What were the key findings?
No significant differences were observed between intervention and comparison schools with respect to cigarette, alcohol, or marijuana use during the 7th grade or over the full 5-year measurement interval. Significant positive effects were observed during the 7th grade for measures of students’ general and specific attitudes toward drugs, the capability to resist peer pressure, and estimated level of drug use by peers. However, these effects faded over time, as average trajectories of change for these outcomes were similar in the intervention and comparison conditions over the full 4-year follow-up.
What were the implications for law enforcement?
The authors suggest that the findings of this 5-year prospective study are largely consistent with the results obtained from prior short-term evaluations of the DARE curriculum, which suggest that DARE is not a particularly effective drug prevention program. These findings underscore the need for more robust prevention programming targeted specifically at risk factors, the inclusion of booster sessions to sustain positive effects, and greater attention to interrelationship between developmental processes in adolescent substance use, individual level characteristics, and social context.
Where can I find more information about this intervention, similar types of intervention, or related studies?