School-based alcohol education: results of a cluster-randomized controlled trial


Reiner Hanewinkel, Institute for Therapy and Health Research, IFT-Nord, Harmsstr. 2, 24114 Kiel, Germany. E-mail:


Objective  This study aimed to examine the effects of a school-based alcohol education intervention.

Design  Two-arm three-wave cluster-randomized controlled trial, with schools as the unit for randomization. Surveys were conducted prior to intervention implementation, then 4 and 12 months after baseline.

Setting  A total of 30 public schools in Schleswig-Holstein, Germany.

Participants  Baseline data were obtained from 1686 7th graders. The retention rate was 85% over 12 months.

Intervention  The intervention consisted of four interactive lessons conducted by teachers, booklets for students and booklets for parents.

Measures  Knowledge, attitudes, life-time alcohol consumption (ever use alcohol without parental knowledge, ever been drunk and ever binge drinking) and past-month alcohol use.

Results  Intention-to-treat analyses revealed that intervention status was associated with more general knowledge about alcohol and lower levels of life-time binge drinking. No effects were found with respect to students' self-reported attitudes, intentions to drink, life-time alcohol use and past-month alcohol use.

Conclusions  The results indicate that this brief school-based intervention had a small short-term preventive effect on alcohol misuse.