COLOGNE. An intervention program based on school class groups has a preventive effect on subsequent drinking behavior, especially binge drinking, in adolescents who had previously consumed alcohol. This is the conclusion reached in a cluster-randomized study reported by Reiner Hanewinkel and colleagues in the current issue of the Deutsches Ärzteblatt International (Dtsch Arztebl Int 2017; 114: 280-7).
The basis of the study was the school-based prevention program "Klar bleiben" ("Keep a Clear Head"), which aims to reduce binge drinking and to support the development of responsible alcohol use. Students in the participating classes jointly signed a class contract and by doing so committed to abstaining from binge drinking for 9 weeks. According to the study, binge drinking is common: 58% of the 4163 grade 10 students (mean age 15.6 years) who participated in the survey had at some point in their lives consumed four (girls) or five (boys) alcoholic drinks in one day.
In the intervention arm, students participated in the prevention program "Klar bleiben" from January to March 2016, whereas students in the control arm went through the usual school curriculum on this topic. Data collections by means of a questionnaire survey were conducted before the intervention at the end of 2015 and six months later. At the start of the study, the control and intervention arms did not differ in terms of the frequency of their consumption of at least four or five alcoholic beverages.
For the total sample, the intervention arm was found to have a slightly lower rate of monthly binge drinking according to the concluding survey. In adolescents who had previously consumed alcohol, the frequency of binge drinking after the end of the intervention had fallen notably, by 5.2 percentage points. In the authors' view, the results of the study should prompt further attempts to commit students to abstain from binge drinking by using contract management.