Individual, family, and school-level interventions targeting multiple risk behaviours in young people

Health risk behaviours, such as smoking and drug use, can group together during the teenage years, and engagement in these multiple risk behaviours can lead to health problems such as injury and substance abuse during childhood and adolescence, as well as non-communicable diseases later in life.

The review team carried out thorough searches of multiple scientific databases and identified 70 studies that looked at ways of preventing or decreasing engagement in two or more risk behaviours, among young people aged eight to 25 years. The studies were divided into groups of individual-level, family-level, and school-level studies and most were conducted in the USA or in high-income countries.

Risk behaviours include:

• tobacco use
• alcohol use
• illicit drug use
• gambling
• self-harm
• sexual risk behaviour
• antisocial behaviour
• vehicle-risk behaviour
• physical inactivity
• poor nutrition

Lead author Georgie MacArthur from the Cochrane Public Health Group summarises, “The findings suggest that school-based interventions offered to children may have a role to play in preventing tobacco use, alcohol use, illicit drug use, and antisocial behaviour. We did not find strong evidence of benefit of interventions for families or individuals, although fewer such interventions were identified. Nevertheless, concerns around reporting of studies and study quality highlight the need for additional robust, high-quality studies to further strengthen the evidence base in this field.”

Read the full review at