Feedback from EUSPR Conference 2012

The theme of this year's conference is looking at multiple risk factors and looking at the research base for tackling multiple health behaviours at the same time. At this conference EURAD (with financial support from the Drug Prevention and Information Programme of the European Union) sponsored two sessions on drug prevention standards and the EU drug strategy. 

In the opening speech, Prochaska (daughter of Prochaska who invented the cycle of change) focused on the benefits and challenges of tackling multiple health risk behaviours at the same time.

Feedback from EUSPR Conference 2012

She drew attention to the lack of research on addressing multiple health behaviours together, noting "Project Jumbo" which was designed to look at diet, physical activity and tobacco together but which never took place, as it was deemed too expensive. What the current research did show however, was when tackling multiple health behaviours together, there was little difference in outcomes in terms of whether you tackled them concurrently or sequentially. Questions however remained as to in which situations it was more effective to do multiple risk factor interventions or single risk factor interventions.

Mark Zimmerman, then continued, with a presentation, which looked at adolescent resilience and why some young people with all the risk factors in place do not go on to develop the unhealthy behaviour, compared to others who do. He drew attention to 3 models of thought on this issue:

  1. Compensatory Model: in which the compensatory variable has the same effect as a risk factor. i.e. in drug use, the compensatory variable might be love in your family. You can do it simple, like regression analysis.

  2. Risk - Protective Factor Model: the idea that if there are enough protective factors, it may stop the risky behaviour.

  3. Challenge Model: the idea that a little bit of risk is a good thing because it strengthens you

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In looking at resilience, Zimmerman referred to 3 specific programmes 

- Baltimore Youth Study (high school drop-out)

- Flint Adolescent Study

- YES (Youth Empowerment Solutions) Programme

Poster Presentations

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Dr Patricia Conrod: Impulsivity and other personal traits as shared vulnerability factor for multiple problem outcomes

In her presentation, Dr Conrad looked at the onset of substance misuse in adolescence, as this is the time when most substance misuse disorders begin and particularly looked at whether looking at brain circuits could help explain why some people are more susceptible to risk taking behaviour. To be more precise, her presentation addressed whether because of neuro differences, whether sensation-seeking individuals were more at risk of unhealthy behaviours. One of the many articles she referred to demonstrated substantial differences in neuropsychological and neuroimaging findings. For example, brain circuits were abnormal in adolescents who recently misused alcohol (Tappert, 2002).

In terms of drugs, a study by Marco Leyton and colleagues in 2002, looked at whether people classed as "sensation seekers" were more susceptible to the chemical effects of amphetamine use.

In terms of randomised trials which are currently ongoing, there is the TRUANCY trial, which is looking at effected of personality-targeting interventions on substance-related behaviours of youth who have been excluded from school, the Canadian First Nations Trial, the Psy-Venture TIral and the Chi-Venture Trial.

Dr Daniel Hale: Common risk factors across adolescence

Central to Hale's presentation were the questions as to whether one risky health behaviour leads to another and whether there is one behaviour which is most important.

For this he drew back to the gateway theory, which he believed makes sense in relation to peer effects, in terms of increased exposure and interest in risky health behaviours.

However, what he drew more on was problem behaviour theory:

- Disregard for social norms

- Effectuated by common risk/protective factors

where he found that several factors may lead to that disregard of social norms:

1. Perceived risk

2. Gender

3. Mental health

4. Risk involved peers

5. Out with friends often and many others!

He found that multiple risk factors were all associated with each other at age 14, 16 and 19 but that the largest predictors of multiple risk factors were previous risk behaviour, male gender, high GHQ, low school connectedness, low parental communication and parents knowing evening activities. However, there was a much weaker association with alcohol drinking and all associations tended to weaken with age.

Society, structures, and prevention

On the second day, in sessions which were made possible by the funding received from the European Commission's Drug Prevention and Information Programme, EURAD chaired sessions on the EU Drug Prevention Guidelines and on the forthcoming EU Drug Strategy.

During the EU Drug Prevention Guideline session, Roman Gabrhelik and Michal Miovsky of Charles University in Prague explained how the Czech Republic had implemented the standards on a national basis. Of particular interest to the audience was how they had created a certification process for these standards. The second presentation looked at how these standards had moved from becoming voluntary to compulsory. The session received a lot of interest and a follow up session was requested during next year's EUSPR conference, to see how other national bodies are implementing the EU Drug Prevention Guidelines.

During this training session, a further presentation was also provided on evidence-based prevention programmes, which was delivered by Nick Axford. Finally, an overview of preventative measures in the workplace was delivered by Jean-Claude Poirier.

EURAD Seminar on how Czech Standards for Prevention of Risk Behaviours are being implemented 

Feedback from EUSPR Conference 2012

The presentations from the EURAD Seminars are available here for download:

Download a fileCzech Standards(9 2 0kb)Download a fileCzech Standards Two(9 2 0kb)Download a filePrevention Standards EUSPR(5 9 3kb)Download a fileWorkplace(2 1 8kb)

In another session, Fay Watson provided an overview of the EU Drugs Strategy, on it's relevance to Member States and how civil society organisations had been involved in its' formation.

Download a fileEU Drug Policy(6 9kb)

With financial support from the Drug Prevention and Information Programme of the European Union

Feedback from EUSPR Conference 2012