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      A school-based resilience intervention to decrease tobacco, alcohol and marijuana use in high school students

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          Despite schools theoretically being an ideal setting for accessing adolescents and preventing initiation of substance use, there is limited evidence of effective interventions in this setting. Resilience theory provides one approach to achieving such an outcome through improving adolescent mental well-being and resilience. A study was undertaken to examine the potential effectiveness of such an intervention approach in improving adolescent resilience and protective factor scores; and reducing the prevalence of adolescent tobacco, alcohol and marijuana use in three high schools.


          A non-controlled before and after study was undertaken. Data regarding student resilience and protective factors, and measures of tobacco, alcohol and marijuana use were collected from grade 7 to 10 students at baseline (n = 1449) and one year following a three year intervention (n = 1205).


          Significantly higher resilience and protective factors scores, and significantly lower prevalence of substance use were evident at follow up.


          The results suggest that the intervention has the potential to increase resilience and protective factors, and to decrease the use of tobacco, alcohol and marijuana by adolescents. Further more rigorous research is required to confirm this potential.

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          Most cited references 41

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          Ordinary magic. Resilience processes in development.

           A. S. Masten (2001)
          The study of resilience in development has overturned many negative assumptions and deficit-focused models about children growing up under the threat of disadvantage and adversity. The most surprising conclusion emerging from studies of these children is the ordinariness of resilience. An examination of converging findings from variable-focused and person-focused investigations of these phenomena suggests that resilience is common and that it usually arises from the normative functions of human adaptational systems, with the greatest threats to human development being those that compromise these protective systems. The conclusion that resilience is made of ordinary rather than extraordinary processes offers a more positive outlook on human development and adaptation, as well as direction for policy and practice aimed at enhancing the development of children at risk for problems and psychopathology.
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            Protecting adolescents from harm. Findings from the National Longitudinal Study on Adolescent Health.

            The main threats to adolescents' health are the risk behaviors they choose. How their social context shapes their behaviors is poorly understood. To identify risk and protective factors at the family, school, and individual levels as they relate to 4 domains of adolescent health and morbidity: emotional health, violence, substance use, and sexuality. Cross-sectional analysis of interview data from the National Longitudinal Study of Adolescent Health. A total of 12118 adolescents in grades 7 through 12 drawn from an initial national school survey of 90118 adolescents from 80 high schools plus their feeder middle schools. The interview was completed in the subject's home. Eight areas were assessed: emotional distress; suicidal thoughts and behaviors; violence; use of 3 substances (cigarettes, alcohol, marijuana); and 2 types of sexual behaviors (age of sexual debut and pregnancy history). Independent variables included measures of family context, school context, and individual characteristics. Parent-family connectedness and perceived school connectedness were protective against every health risk behavior measure except history of pregnancy. Conversely, ease of access to guns at home was associated with suicidality (grades 9-12: P<.001) and violence (grades 7-8: P<.001; grades 9-12: P<.001). Access to substances in the home was associated with use of cigarettes (P<.001), alcohol (P<.001), and marijuana (P<.001) among all students. Working 20 or more hours a week was associated with emotional distress of high school students (P<.01), cigarette use (P<.001), alcohol use (P<.001), and marijuana use (P<.001). Appearing "older than most" in class was associated with emotional distress and suicidal thoughts and behaviors among high school students (P<.001); it was also associated with substance use and an earlier age of sexual debut among both junior and senior high students. Repeating a grade in school was associated with emotional distress among students in junior high (P<.001) and high school (P<.01) and with tobacco use among junior high students (P<.001). On the other hand, parental expectations regarding school achievement were associated with lower levels of health risk behaviors; parental disapproval of early sexual debut was associated with a later age of onset of intercourse (P<.001). Family and school contexts as well as individual characteristics are associated with health and risky behaviors in adolescents. The results should assist health and social service providers, educators, and others in taking the first steps to diminish risk factors and enhance protective factors for our young people.
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              Adolescent resilience: a framework for understanding healthy development in the face of risk.

              Adolescent resilience research differs from risk research by focusing on the assets and resources that enable some adolescents to overcome the negative effects of risk exposure. We discuss three models of resilience-the compensatory, protective, and challenge models-and describe how resilience differs from related concepts. We describe issues and limitations related to resilience and provide an overview of recent resilience research related to adolescent substance use, violent behavior, and sexual risk behavior. We then discuss implications that resilience research has for intervention and describe some resilience-based interventions.

                Author and article information

                [1 ]Hunter New England Population Health, Hunter New England Area Health Service, New South Wales, Australia
                [2 ]The University of Newcastle, New South Wales, Australia
                [3 ]Hunter Medical Research Institute, New South Wales, Australia
                [4 ]Newcastle Institute of Public Health, New South Wales, Australia
                [5 ]Hunter Institute of Mental Health, Hunter New England Area Health Service, New South Wales, Australia
                BMC Public Health
                BMC Public Health
                BioMed Central
                24 September 2011
                : 11
                : 722
                Copyright ©2011 Hodder et al; licensee BioMed Central Ltd.

                This is an Open Access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License (, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.

                Research Article

                Public health


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