Aims: The study examined normative school drug-education practice in Scotland and the extent to which it reflected the evidence base for effective drug education. Methods: Current guidance in Scotland was compared with systematic review evidence on drug-education effectiveness; a survey was mailed to primary, secondary and special schools (928 questionnaires returned); and 100 drug-education lessons were systematically observed across 40 schools. Findings: Nearly all schools provided drug education but modes of delivery and learning approaches did not always reflect the evidence base. There was a strong reliance on information provision and more limited use of social influences, resistance and normative approaches. Teaching was reasonably interactive, particularly with teachers who had been trained. Although drug education was provided across all school years, there was limited linkage and some duplication of content for different age groups. The rationale for resource use was not always clear, and some resources were inappropriate for pupils. Conclusions: Recommendations for closing the gap between evidence and practice include: guidance that emphasizes more strongly the weight of evidence behind recommendations; training in effective approaches; greater continuity and integration of drug education across the whole curriculum; a review of resources; and better guidance on using external visitors.
Drugs: education, prevention and policy, 17(1): 1-20
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