Verifying drug abuse prevention program effects using reciprocal best friend reports

Stewart I. Donaldson, Craig W. Thomas, John W. Graham, Judith G. Au, William B. Hansen

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

19 Scopus citations


Considerable research suggests that social influences-based drug abuse prevention programming has produced the most consistently successful preventive effects. However, a common criticism of this literature is that most prevention intervention studies rely solely on self-reported substance use. The purpose of this study was to assess the effects of normative education, arguably the most successful component of social influence based prevention programs, on alcohol and cigarette consumption using both self- and reciprocal best friend reports of substance use. Analyses of subsamples of data from 11,995 students participating in the Adolescent Alcohol Prevention Trial revealed that normative education significantly delayed the onset of alcohol use across the eighth, ninth, and tenth grades among public school students. A similar but somewhat less robust pattern was found for cigarette use. These results suggest that self-report bias does not account for previous findings and demonstrate rather convincingly that normative education is an effective drug prevention strategy for public school settings.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)585-601
Number of pages17
JournalJournal of Behavioral Medicine
Issue number6
Publication statusPublished - Dec 1 2000


All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Psychology(all)
  • Psychiatry and Mental health

Cite this

Donaldson, S. I., Thomas, C. W., Graham, J. W., Au, J. G., & Hansen, W. B. (2000). Verifying drug abuse prevention program effects using reciprocal best friend reports. Journal of Behavioral Medicine, 23(6), 585-601.