Methods: Data are from the first two (of four) cohorts (N=274; 66% female; 88% White; mean age=14.79;) of the RCT which aims to evaluate the impact of REAL media on youth substance intentions, as well as theoretical mediators including self-efficacy to counter-argue and substance-specific normative beliefs. Participating youth were randomly assigned to treatment (n=129) or control groups (n=145), and completed self-report surveys at baseline and 3-month follow-up. We employed simple regression models with full information maximum likelihood in Mplus to test whether participating in REAL media was associated with differences self-efficacy, injunctive norms, descriptive norms, and intentions to use substances relative to youth in the control group. Main outcomes of interest at baseline (e.g., substance intentions) as well as demographic variables (e.g., gender, age, ethnicity, and education type) were controlled for in all models.
Results: Results show a significant program effect on substance use injunctive norms between treatment and control, (β =-.14, se=.06, t-value=-2.41), indicating that youth in the treatment group perceived lower acceptability of substance use among others important to them. There were no significant difference on other program mediators including self-efficacy (β =.05, se=.06, t-value=.74) and descriptive norms (β =-.04, se=.05, t-value=-.89), as well as intentions to use substances (β =.02, se=.05, t-value=.37) between two groups.
Conclusions: Preliminary analyses with two of four cohorts of participants suggest that, in the short-term, REAL media is having a positive impact on injunctive norms. It is possible that effects on other variables will emerge when we have a higher-powered sample (e.g., all four cohorts). We will also examine effects of a 9-month follow-up to see if long-term effects on actual substance use emerge. Given the adaptation of the curriculum to a self-paced, e-learning approach, it is possible that program effects are dependent on user engagement with the content, which will also be explored in future analyses.