Project Details


The goals of this Phase II STTR are to evaluate the outcomes of REAL media, an interactive, self- paced, e-learning substance use prevention media literacy curriculum and prepare it for marketing to community organizations, including our partner, 4-H. Substance use increases in frequency and risk through mid-adolescence, yet prevention interventions primarily target early use, are time intensive, and are implemented in a limited number of settings such as schools. Moreover, they often fail to address the media-saturated lives of youth despite research demonstrating the deleterious effects of advertising and entertainment media. This provides a market niche for the proposed project that addresses this curriculum gap through the innovative use of both technology and prevention science. Guided by the new Theory of Active Involvement, REAL media develops critical perspective taking about substance use decisions and confers resistance to pro-drug (e.g., alcohol, cigarettes, e-cigarettes, marijuana, smokeless tobacco) messages through youth analysis of pro-drug media messages combined with interactive media manipulation and active involvement of youth participants in creating their own anti-ATOD prevention messages. These youth-created messages are then entered into an online contest via a social media proliferation strategy (i.e., youth recruit others to view their messages on social media (e.g., Facebook, YouTube) to win the contest) in which messages are diffused to the wider community. The curriculum demonstrated promising results when administered face-to-face during an NIH-funded pilot study, and the Phase I project demonstrated excellent usability and feasibility for online delivery through 4-H clubs. During Phase II, we will finalize the program and conduct a group-randomized clinical trial among 4-H clubs in four states (NJ, OH, MD, and PA). Clubs will be randomly assigned to use the curriculum or continue current practices with the option for delivery at the end of the study. 4-H members (ages 13-15) will complete a pretest, immediate posttest and follow-up posttests at 3 and 9 months to assess effects. Results will guide preparation of REAL media for the market. The flexibility of the brief, online format (four 15-25 minute levels plus a fifth message planning and production level) for youth in individual or group settings makes this ideal for both community and school implementation. Thus, REAL media is well-suited for rapid dissemination through our existing partners, 4-H, D.A.R.E., and Boys and Girls Clubs, as well as other potential community partners (e.g., YM/WCA, Boys and Girl Scouts) and is appropriate for Phase II funding.
Effective start/end date5/1/1710/31/20


  • National Institute on Drug Abuse: $873,000.00
  • National Institute on Drug Abuse: $73,579.00
  • National Institute on Drug Abuse: $553,420.00


  • Marketing


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