As Australia’s peak party season draws near, Queensland research reveals public school students, young men and students from Central and North Queensland have lower risk-aversion for alcohol and high-risk activities.
Royal Brisbane and Women’s Hospital (RBWH) Associate Professor Cate Cameron explained the research study is linked to the RBWH’s Prevent Alcohol and Risk-Related Trauma in Youth (P.A.R.T.Y.) Program – the largest program of its type in the southern hemisphere.
The program is an interactive and reality-based educational experience aimed at reducing preventable and life-altering trauma injuries in young people. Since its inception in 2010, the program has been extended to high schools throughout Queensland.
“In 2018-2019, 148 high schools participated in the P.A.R.T.Y. Program, with approximately 6,000 students attending the program at 11 hospital sites across Queensland and in seven schools in Brisbane.
“Thanks to BDHP (now Health Translation Queensland) funding support, we were able to analyse the program, provide new insights about risk-taking behaviours and suggest potential improvements to the program,” A/Professor Cameron said.
Young adults remain over-represented in preventable deaths and permanent disability from injuries, with injuries being the leading cause of death for people aged 15-24 years in Australia.
To help reduce deaths and permanent disability from injuries among young adults, the research team analysed the results of the state-wide prevention program.
“Our research, published recently in Injury Prevention, examined the effectiveness of the P.A.R.T.Y. Program for the first time using multi-site data and observing the temporal changes in participant attitudes and behaviour.
“The results showed a positive change in knowledge and attitudes towards risk-taking behaviours by the students who participated in the program, and we identified some opportunities to improve the program,” A/Professor Cameron said.
The P.A.R.T.Y. Program is a one-day immersive, in-hospital injury awareness and prevention program involving metropolitan and rural school students.
The program is run by health professionals and emergency services staff directly involved in managing trauma patients in hospital clinical and rehabilitation areas. Participants follow the typical journey of a trauma patient and meet with injury survivors who have sustained a permanent injury.
A/Professor Cameron’s research team analysed data collected immediately before and after the state-wide program, and then four months later.
“With data from multiple sites, we were also able to look at the differences in the program effectiveness in different regions and the changes over time in student’s knowledge and attitudes.
“The immediate post-course results showed significantly increased awareness of risk or change in action.
“For example, only 10 per cent of students considered alcohol consumption to be extremely risky before the program, and this increased to 30 per cent after the program.
“When we followed up the students four months later, unfortunately, we found positive attitudes towards risky behaviour had declined. For most topics, to within 10 per cent of pre-program levels.
“For example, we asked students whether they would ask a passenger not to distract a driver. Before the program, 71.65 per cent would do this. Immediately afterwards, 87.34 per cent would do this, but four months later, 78.06 per cent would take this action.”
“We also found that public school students, young men and students from Central and North Queensland had lower risk-aversion. In Central and North Queensland, this was particularly the case for driving-related risks.
“The two most important outcomes show that we need ways to reinforce the learnings after the initial program (e.g., using booster components via apps or gamification). We also need to tailor the P.A.R.T.Y. messaging for specific demographic groups and topics where the risk is greatest.
“Another useful finding is that participants in the school-based program were less likely to be positively influenced compared to the hospital-based program.
“So, we need strategies to increase the effectiveness of school-based delivery, given its capacity to reach greater numbers of students and the flexibility it offers during pandemic times,” A/Professor Cameron said.
The Royal Brisbane and Women’s Hospital holds the largest P.A.R.T.Y. multi-site licence in the Southern Hemisphere and provides administration and coordination of all programs in Queensland. The P.A.R.T.Y. Program is funded in partnership with the Queensland Department of Transport and Main Roads and past funding from AAMI. A BDHP (now Health Translation Queensland) seed grant supported this research study.
Cameron CM, Eley R, Judge C, O’Neill R, Handy M, “Did attending P.A.R.T.Y. change youth perceptions? Results from 148 Queensland schools participating in the Prevent Alcohol and Risk-Related Trauma in Youth Program”, 2018-2019, Injury Prevention https://injuryprevention.bmj.com/content/early/2021/10/18/injuryprev-2021-044222
The research team and contributors include:
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