Beyond Primary Prevention of Alcohol Use: A Culturally Specific Secondary Prevention Program for Mexican Heritage Adolescents

Flavio Marsiglia, Stephanie Ayers, Bonnie Gance-Cleveland, Kathleen Mettler, Jaime Booth

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

21 Scopus citations


Classroom-based primary prevention programs with adolescents are effective in inhibiting the onset of drug use, but these programs are not designed to directly address the unique needs of adolescents at higher risk of use or already using alcohol and other drugs. This article describes the initial efficacy evaluation of a companion psychosocial small group program which aims at addressing the needs of Mexican heritage students identified by their teachers as being at higher risk for substance use or already experimenting with alcohol and other drugs. The adolescent (7th grade) small group curricula, REAL Groups, is a secondary prevention program which supplements the primary classroom-based substance use prevention program, keepin' it REAL. Following a mutual aid approach, a total of 109 7th grade students were referred by their teachers and participated in the REAL Groups. The remaining 252 7th grade students who did not participate served as the control group. To account for biased selection into REAL Groups, propensity score matching (PSM) was employed. The estimated average treatment effect for participants' use of alcohol was calculated at the end of the 8th grade. Results indicate that alcohol use decreased among students who participated in the REAL Groups relative to matched students who did not participate. These findings suggest that REAL Groups may be an effective secondary prevention program for higher-risk Mexican heritage adolescents.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)241-251
Number of pages11
JournalPrevention Science
Issue number3
StatePublished - Jun 2012


  • Propensity score matching
  • Secondary prevention program
  • Substance use
  • keepin' it REAL

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Public Health, Environmental and Occupational Health


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