The NIH-funded intervention efforts to reduce underage alcohol use in rural towns in northeastern Oklahoma, which was a unique collaboration between researchers in the Cherokee Nation and the Department of Health Outcomes & Policy, came to a close in June.
“Our preliminary data is incredibly promising,” said Kelli Komro, Ph.D., MPH, faculty member in the Institute for Child Health Policy and the lead researcher on the team. “While we have several months to go before we can make specific claims, we are excited to celebrate the implementation accomplishments of this innovative and rigorous study in Oklahoma and share more about what we have learned during our five-year trial.”
Researchers from UF, including Alexander C. Wagenaar, Ph.D., faculty member in the Institute for Child Health Policy, will attend wrap-up meetings in Oklahoma in late June, which will be the first time that the many different facets of the study will learn about one another and their coordinated efforts across six communities to reduce underage alcohol use.
The project, entitled Prevention Trial in the Cherokee Nation: Interactive Effects of Environment and SBIRT, tested two major interventions. The first was a trained CONNECT coach in high schools, who connected students to various resources, provided guidance and support, and referred them for additional help if needed. The second intervention consisted of a trained community action organizer who built a local team dedicated to strategic improvements to local law enforcement as well as building awareness and empowerment.
To test the effectiveness of these interventions, data has been systematically collected from high school students for four years, and regular alcohol compliance checks occur in collaboration with Cherokee Nation researchers. The checks are conducted by females over the age of 21 who have been judged by an age panel to appear under 21. These individuals drive a circuit through the rural areas, attempt to purchase alcohol without a license at assigned liquor stores, report on each establishment’s sales, and return with their purchases (pictured above).
To learn more about this project, read about the team’s recent trip to the Society of Prevention Research 23rd Annual Meeting, where several project members presented on various facets of the trial in a featured poster forum.