Methods: A three wave school-based cluster randomized controlled trial was conducted in 2014/2015 among 6,391 students in 7th and 8th grades in 72 public schools in 6 Brazilian cities. The intervention group received the #Tamojunto, a 12-session school drug-use prevention program, based on the European Unplugged Program, which has as core elements life skills, normative beliefs and drug information. Control group received treatment as usual, that is, no prevention programs in Brazilian schools. Structural equation modeling was used to test if baseline parenting style dimensions (demandingness and responsiveness) as perceived by the adolescents would predict the use of drugs (alcohol, binge drinking, cannabis, inhalants, and tobacco) 21 months after baseline. Additionally, we evaluated a conditional version of the above-described model to test if the effect of the prevention program would be moderated by either or both parents’ dimensional behaviors. Two procedures to deal with missing data were tested.
Results: Higher levels of parent demandingness predicted lower chances of adolescent drug use (e.g. Cigarette use OR = 0.76, 95%CI = 0.64 to 0.89). Under full information maximum likelihood but not multiple imputation, we observed a significant effect of demandingness on cannabis use (OR = 0.82, 95%CI = 0.70 to 0.98. Responsiveness had no effect. We found no significant effect of #Tamojunto on adolescents’ drug use. The effect of the intervention was not conditioned to either parent’s traits. Regarding construct validity, the two-dimensional scale returned good fit indices in our sample of Brazilian adolescents.
Conclusions: School drug prevention programs should provide a parental curriculum for the development of parental skills, with emphasis on activities and talks that reinforce monitoring skills.