RealTeen is a web-based drug abuse prevention intervention for adolescent girls.
RealTeen addresses drug use risk factors in 13 and 14-year-old girls to delay onset and reduce overall rates of drug use. To accomplish this goal and promote overall well-being, RealTeen promotes cognitive and social skills related to stress, mood, communication, and healthy body image. The secured RealTeen program consists of a homepage and 12 intervention sessions. The homepage features news feeds, other teen-oriented material, and the option to post intervention session responses to a public blog, a chat forum, a private diary, or to a penpal (another user). A female animated character guides users through each intervention session. The 12 sessions consist of 1 introductory session, 9 social cognitive theory-based sessions (goal setting, decision making, puberty, body image, coping, drug knowledge, communication and assertiveness, and drug refusal (2 sessions), and 2 final review sessions. Each session (15-20 minutes, on average) contains a skills-based lesson, interactive practice exercises, review, and a quiz. Users can decide whether or not to share intervention session responses with fellow users, and which platform to use (moderated public blog or chat forum) on the program homepage. Users receive points for each completed session and can spend accumulated points on small items (e.g. nail polish, lip gloss, stickers).
Social Cognitive Theory (SCT)
Drug abuse prevention
Adolescents (13-14 years)
Summary: Researchers recruited seventh, eighth, and ninth grade girls ages 13-14 years (n = 236) from 42 US states and 4 Canadian provinces through emails to registered users of a teen-oriented website (Kiwibox.com™) to participate in a controlled study of the effect of the RealTeen intervention on past-month substance use (alcohol, marijuana, poly drug, and total use) and associated risk and protective factors at posttest and 6-month follow-up assessments. After a rigorous informed parental consent and participant assent process, researchers randomized participants into an intervention group that received the RealTeen intervention or to a control group. All participants completed online assessments at baseline (pretest), at completion of intervention, on average, 1 month after pretest (posttest), and 6 months after posttest (follow-up). Analysis of posttest scores revealed no significant differences between intervention and control group reports of past-month alcohol, marijuana, poly drug, and total substance use (alcohol and drugs). However, intervention participants reported significant growth in healthy normative beliefs (related to substance use among friends and peers) at posttest (compared with the control). At the 6-month follow-up girls in the RealTeen group reported significantly lower rates of past-month alcohol, marijuana, poly drug, and total substance use, compared with girls in the control group. Girls in the RealTeen group also reported significantly greater increases in self-efficacy to resist pressure from a boyfriend to use substances at the 6-month follow-up relative to participants in the control group.
Take Away: Adolescent girls who used the RealTeen intervention reported more beneficial substance use beliefs at posttest, and lower rates of past-month substance use and higher self-efficacy scores at 6 months (compared with the control).
Summary: Researchers recruited adolescent girls ages 13-14 years (n = 788) through Facebook advertisements to participate in a controlled study of the effect of RealTeen on past-month substance use (alcohol, binge drinking, cigarettes, marijuana) and related risk and protective factors at posttest and 1-year follow-up. After a thorough informed parental consent and participant assent process, interested girls completed an online pretest to determine eligibility (US resident, English speaker, access to a private computer with broadband internet). Researchers randomized eligible participants to receive RealTeen or a control group. Participants completed online assessments at baseline (pretest), at completion of the intervention, on average, 3.5 weeks after pretest (posttest), and 1-year after posttest (follow-up). At posttest, girls in the RealTeen group reported lower rates of cigarette use and higher self-esteem, media literacy, self-efficacy, and more goal-setting compared with control participants. At the 1-year follow-up, compared with participants in the control group, RealTeen participants reported lower rates of binge drinking, cigarette use, and peer drug use, superior skill in refusal of alcohol, cigarettes and marijuana, and stronger coping and media literacy skills.
Take away: Compared with control group participants, adolescent girls who participated in the RealTeen program reported both immediate and sustained lower past-month substance use and higher protective skills.
Two- and three-year follow-up from a gender-specific, web-based drug abuse prevention program for adolescent girls
Summary: In a continuation of the 2017-2018 study of adolescent girls (n = 788) described in Schwinn et al, 2018, researchers examined the impact of RealTeen on past-month substance use and associated risk and protective factors through online follow-up assessments of participants at 2- and 3-years post-intervention. At the 2-year follow-up, relative to controls, girls in the RealTeen group reported lower past-month cigarette, marijuana, and other drug use, lower rates of peer drug use, and improved drug refusal skills, coping skills, self-esteem, media literacy, and self-efficacy. At the 3-year follow-up, RealTeen girls reported less past-month cigarette and e-cigarette use, lower rates of peer drug use, lower anxiety and stress, and stronger drug refusal skills, self-esteem, media literacy, self-efficacy, and body image (compared to controls).
Take Away: RealTeen demonstrated sustained positive impact on self-reported drug use behaviors and risk and protective factors associated with drug use.