Abstract: Measuring Substance Abuse Prevention Environmental Strategies and Social Norms Change: Findings on reliability of the Environmental Strategies Indicator Tool (Society for Social Work and Research 14th Annual Conference: Social Work Research: A WORLD OF POSSIBILITIES)

16P Measuring Substance Abuse Prevention Environmental Strategies and Social Norms Change: Findings on reliability of the Environmental Strategies Indicator Tool

Friday, January 15, 2010
* noted as presenting author
Albert Yeung, MSSW , University of Texas at Austin, CSAP Prevention Fellow, Austin, TX
Jeremy Goldbach, MSSW , University of Texas at Austin, Project Director, Austin, TX
Richard Cervantes, PhD , Behavioral Assessment, Inc, Executive Director, Los Angeles, CA
Purpose: Through the SAMHSA/CSAP Strategic Prevention Framework State Incentive Grant (SPF SIG), the Texas Department of State Health Services (DSHS) implemented evidence-based environmental (community-level) strategies for the prevention of substance abuse among adolescents and young adults. These approaches focus on reducing the supply of alcohol to this target group through changing specific intervening variables, such as alcohol availability (via retail and social access), community norms and law enforcement, and the implementation of local and statewide policies related to alcohol. However, measuring individual perceptions on these intervening variables is difficult, as no previous measurement tool has been validated for statewide evaluation use. More specifically, there is no validated tool that uniquely measures the impact of environmental prevention strategies on individuals consumption patterns or on individual perceptions of community change. This poster presentation will present the usefulness of the Environmental Strategies Indicator (ESI) survey tool for measuring individual perceptions of community-level change related to alcohol use behaviors.

Methods: The researchers developed the ESI survey instrument to assess individual perceptions about the impact of availability, normative, and policy environmental strategies. The initial instrument was pilot-tested with a youth sample, revised, and later re-tested as a phone-based data collection instrument. The self-report survey tool collected data on alcohol consumption patterns, risky behaviors related to alcohol, and individual knowledge on state laws regarding drinking and driving policy and enforcement. Purposive sampling was utilized to obtain representative responses from individual adults 18-25 residing within the ten targeted communities within the state of Texas. Data collection used combined listed numbers and random-digit dialing phone survey in the areas targeted by the TX SPF SIG conducted by trained student interviewers from Texas A&M University. The ESI was also translated and administered in Spanish for Spanish-speaking respondents.

Results: The data examined 1876 phone surveys completed within the 10 targeted SPF regions. The age distribution among the respondents showed 44% between 18 to 21 years old and 56% between 22 to 25 years old. Just over 70% reported as ever having an alcoholic drink. Preliminary internal consistency results based on Cronbach's alpha yielded a high reliability coefficient for Retail Access (.95), good reliability for Social Access (.79) and moderate reliability for Perceived Risk of Sanctions (.73). Good reliability coefficients were found for all four social norm constructs: Community Norms (.80); Individual Norms (.78); Peer Norms (.86); and Family Norms (.81). Both Perceived Enforcement and Perceived Physical Risk showed alpha values approaching moderate reliability, each with coefficients at .59.

Implications: Previous to the development of the ESI, no standardized tool existed for evaluating community beliefs and perceptions on supply reduction. The ESI is a valid, reliable tool which should be considered by states in the assessment of availability, norms and policy shifts at the community level.