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Evaluation of Early Intervention Drug Prevention Programme

Background

Lambeth, Southwark and Lewisham Health Authority, working in partnership with the local authorities, established a programme of innovative early intervention drug prevention projects aimed at vulnerable young people living in the three boroughs. The overall aim of the programme was to reduce substance misuse and related risk-taking behaviour. Within the overall programme the four discrete pilot projects embraced a range of settings (youth justice, education, youth work, adolescent mental health) and types of intervention (including individual and group work), targeting specific groups of vulnerable young people:

  • young offenders
  • children of drug using parents
  • socially excluded young people
  • young people excluded from school

The Policy Research Bureau was appointed to evaluate the effectiveness of the whole programme.


What did the research focus on?

The primary focus of the evaluation was on outcomes for the young people targeted by each of the pilot interventions. The research also considered the processes involved in establishing such projects, including issues around partnership and multi-agency working, highlighting pointers for good practice in setting up interventions of this kind.

It was important throughout to ensure that the evaluative process established a balance between considering the unique features of each individual project, whilst nevertheless taking account of the overall effectiveness of the programme as a whole. This was facilitated by collecting both 'core' data common to all four projects, as well as additional unique data relevant to each individual setting.


What did the research involve?

A data collection protocol was established in partnership with each of the projects, specifying what data should be collected, when, how and by whom. Quantitative data relating to young people was collected from project workers and the young people themselves. Qualitative methods (depth interviews and focus groups with young people) were also be employed to aid interpretation of the quantitative findings. The 'process evaluation' involved interviews with key staff members, observation of sessions with young people, attending meetings and examining relevant documentation relating to the programme.


Timescale and final products of the research

The evaluation was funded for two years from October 1999. Data collection related to the evaluation of the programme of interventions began in January 2000 and continued for approximately 18 months. PRB reported to the Lambeth, Southwark and Lewisham Health Authority at regular intervals, including an interim report after one year and a full final report focusing on the outcomes for young people.

The resulting publications are:

Ghate D, Brazier L and Moran P (2003) Briefing Paper for Policy Makers, Service Planners and Practitioners: Four Early Intervention Substance Misuse Projects in South London. London: Policy Research Bureau

Ghate D, Brazier L and Moran P (2003) Implementation and outcomes in four Early Intervention Substance Misuse Projects in South London - an evaluation: Summary of key findings and messages for policy, planning and practice. London: Policy Research Bureau

Brazier L and Ghate D (2002) The Evaluation of Four Early Intervention Substance Misuse Projects Part 2: Baseline and Intervention Data. Final Report to Lambeth, Southwark and Lewisham Health Authority. London: Policy Research Bureau

Moran P (2001) The Evaluation of Four Early Intervention Substance Misuse Projects Part 1: The Process Evaluation London: Policy Research Bureau Final Report to Lambeth, Southwark and Lewisham Health Authority. London: Policy Research Bureau

See Publications for further details.

Last updated July 2004