Talk About Alcohol: An evaluation of the Alcohol Education Trust's intervention in secondary schools

David Kerr, Ben Styles, Sarah Lynch, Anneka Dawson, Jack Worth, John Lloyd

31 October 2013

The Alcohol Education Trust commissioned NFER to conduct an independent evaluation of the impact of their Talk About Alcohol materials. Aimed at young people age 11-18 and their parents, the materials take a harm minimisation approach which encourages students to make informed decisions about alcohol, and provides tactics to help them manage difficult situations.

The evaluation investigated change over time in knowledge of alcohol and its effects, attitudes and behaviour of approximately 2000 students age 12-14 who used the materials (the ‘intervention group’) compared with a group of 2000 similar students who did not (a statistically matched ‘comparison group’). A self-report questionnaire survey of students was carried out to explore these outcomes at three time points across the school years 2011-12 and 2012-13.

Key Findings

  • Onset of drinking: there is statistically significant evidence of impact of the materials on delaying the age at which teenagers start to drink
  • Knowledge of alcohol and its effects: there is a significant association between the materials and increased knowledge of alcohol and its effects
  • Frequent drinking: levels of frequency of drinking and binge drinking were lower among intervention schools, although there is no evidence of a statistically significant difference in frequency of drinking or in terms of prevalence of drinking to get drunk at this stage. These are arguably longer term impacts that may be achieved when students are older and more likely to drink alcohol more frequently, as levels of frequent and binge drinking at this stage were low.

The Department for Education sponsors the Centre for Analysis of Youth Transitions, which has created a repository of impact studies. NFER’s evaluation of the Talk About Alcohol materials has been graded by the centre; the impact of the materials has been graded a maximum score of 3 out of 3 and the quality of evidence had been graded a score of 5 out of 6.

Sponsor Details

Institute for Fiscal Studies