Empowering young people to make Positive Choices: Evidence-based resources for the prevention of alcohol and other drug use in Australian schools

LCJ 21 front cover

Lexine Stapinski, Siobhan Lawler, Nicola Newton, Bill Reda, Cath Chapman & Maree Teesson

LCJ: Special Issue: 2017 30th ACHPER International Conference, 21, pp. 152-167

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Stapinski, L., Lawler, S., Newton, N., Reda, B., Chapman, C. & Teesson, M. (2017). Empowering young people to make Positive Choices: Evidence-based resources for the prevention of alcohol and other drug use in Australian schools. Learning Communities: International Journal of Learning in Social Contexts [Special Issue: 2017 30th ACHPER International Conference], 21, 152-167. DOI: https://doi.org/10.18793/LCJ2017.21.12



There is increasing evidence that drug education and prevention programs implemented in schools are effective in reducing alcohol and drug use and associated harm. Despite this, evidence-based programs are not widely implemented in schools. We describe the development and evaluation of Positive Choices, an online portal to improve access to, and implementation of, evidence-based drug education in Australian schools.

The portal was developed in consultation with drug and alcohol experts, as well as target users (teachers, parents and students). Research literature and drug education websites were systematically reviewed to identify resources meeting pre-specified inclusion criteria for relevance and quality. An evaluation survey was conducted with 82 teachers to clarify drug education practices and attitudes, and examine use and impact of Positive Choices in the first eight months post-launch of the site.

Teacher survey responses reflected a strong preference for evidence-based teaching approaches, yet evidence-based programs were implemented by less than one in four of them. 

Scoping identified 114 evidence-informed resources, including a range of games, videos, and curriculum packages. Beta-testing feedback was overwhelming positive, indicating the Positive Choices portal was easy to navigate, relevant and useful. Teachers who used Positive Choices were more likely to consider supporting evidence when selecting a resource, reported their students were more engaged and felt more comfortable discussing drug and alcohol since using the portal.

This study indicates the Positive Choices portal is a valuable, free and easily accessible online database for students, parents and teachers seeking up-to-date information and evidencebased drug education resources.


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