Academic journal article International Journal of Child Health and Human Development

Subjective Outcome Evaluation of a Drug Prevention Program in Hong Kong: Perspective of the Program Participants

Academic journal article International Journal of Child Health and Human Development

Subjective Outcome Evaluation of a Drug Prevention Program in Hong Kong: Perspective of the Program Participants

Article excerpt

Introduction

Probably because of the influence of popular culture and youth sub-culture as well as disintegration of families, substance abuse among young people has become an acute global problem. As Hong Kong is an international city where information flow (including those related to psychotropic drugs) is very quick, adolescent substance abuse is also a grave concern for Hong Kong (1). An examination of the substance abuse figures in the past twenty years showed that there were three peaks in the substance abusers figures reported to the Central Registry of Drug Abuse (CDRA) maintained by the Narcotics Division of the Government. The first peak was in mid-1990s which was mainly related to easy access to tranquilizers which were not tightly controlled by legislations. The second peak was in early 2000s which was closely related to the rave party culture. The third peak was in 2008-09 which was mainly related to abuse of ketamine in schools. In fact, these peaks mirrored the global trend of abusing non-opiate psychotropic substances and the growing belief among young people that psychotropic substance abuse is non-addictive and it is a valid choice of life. The number of young people abusing psychotropic substances has increased in the past decade. In the recent school survey conducted by the Narcotics Division, Government of the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region, it was found that drug abuse was more prevalent than those reported in previous studies, although the prevalence rates were still not as high as those in Western countries.

With the intensification of adolescent substance abuse in the context of Hong Kong, there is a demand for adolescent substance abuse prevention programs (2,3). Although many organizations in Hong Kong provide drug prevention programs for young people, such programs often lack vigorous evaluation.

To help high-risk adolescents to stay away from drugs, the Beat Drugs Fund of the Government of the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region, P.R.C. and Wofoo Foundation supported a project entitled -Project Astro" undertaken by researchers of The University of Hong Kong and The Chinese University of Hong Kong (4,5). In this paper, the development of a pioneering drug prevention program in Hong Kong (Project Astro MIND) is described and evaluation findings pertinent to the effectiveness of the related programs are presented. Project Astro MIND comprises three sequential and developmentally appropriate programs (Astro Kids, Astro Teens and Astro Leaders) designed for children and adolescents, with topics on drug, sex, adolescent development, and life skills with reference to risk and protective factors in adolescent substance abuse are included in the group sessions.

For the graduates of the programs, they can join programs on leaders and with the involvement of the family members. The design of the program can be seen in Table 1.

To understand the effectiveness of the project, there are at least four evaluation questions that should be asked: 1) Are there any positive changes in the program participants (i.e., objective outcome evaluation)? 2) Are the program participants and workers satisfied with the program (i.e., subjective outcome evaluation)? 3) What happens during the program implementation process (i.e., process evaluation)? 4) What are the subjective experiences of the program participants and the workers (i.e., qualitative evaluation)? Definitely, the inclusion of different evaluation mechanisms may help to triangulate the findings collected.

As far as objective outcome evaluation is concerned, a quasi-experimental longitudinal design was employed to evaluate the effectiveness of the project.

For participants in the experimental groups (139 Astro Kids and 217 Astro Teens participants) and the control groups (213 Astro Kids and 201 Astro Teens controls), they were required to respond to objective outcome measures, including measures of social skills, attitude towards drugs, refusal skills towards drugs, usage of drugs, behavioral intention, drug and sex knowledge, stress and psychological well-being at pretest and different posttests. …

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