Aim: Previous studies have demonstrated a positive effect of school-based life skills programmes on the prevention of substance abuse and other health-risk behaviours in children and adolescents. However, the comparison and interpretation of study results is difficult due to methodological problems. In particular, the effectiveness of such programmes within high-risk groups remains uncertain. In this study, we investigated the effects of two school-based life skills programmes on substance abuse and subjective health in a sample with a high proportion of socially disadvantaged pupils. Subjects and methods: We conducted a randomised controlled intervention study with repeated measurements over time. The sample included pupils of secondary schools in northern Germany with an overrepresentation of pupils with low socioeconomic status. We evaluated effects of the programmes on substance abuse and psychosocial outcomes. In addition, we conducted a process evaluation. Results: The sample included 102 classes with a total of 1,561 pupils. Twenty-five per cent of the pupils were of a low socioeconomic status. We found significant positive effects regarding the reduction of smoking and some improvements in the pupils' life skills in the intervention group compared to the control group. Socioeconomic status had no moderating effect on the results. Conclusion: School-based life skills programmes have a positive effect on smoking prevention regardless of socioeconomic status. Socially disadvantaged children benefit from such programmes to a similar extent as other pupils. Pupils and teachers appreciate the programmes. A supportive school environment appears to be an important factor in the successful implementation of school-based life skills programmes.
Research Areas and Centers
- Academic Focus: Center for Brain, Behavior and Metabolism (CBBM)