Substance Use Research

‘The long term effectiveness of a combined prevention model for anxiety, depression and substance use in adolescents’

University of NSW
Awarded 2018

“Harms relating to substance use and mental health problems are a serious concern in Australia, and the transition into early adulthood represents a key period of risk. “

Researcher Profile

Louise Mewton is a Rotary Health and Scientia Fellow at the University of New South Wales. Her research focuses on the application of innovative methods and techniques to further our understanding of the epidemiology, classification and prevention of substance use and mental health problems. This research makes links across epidemiology, information technology, neuropsychology and prevention, reflecting global research priorities.

Dr Mewton has secured ~$9.5 million in funding, and received prestigious awards from the largest national and international professional societies focusing on substance use. She is also a 2017 Young Tall Poppy which recognises Australia’s outstanding researchers and science communicators.

Project Summary

This study represents a unique opportunity to build on the CLIMATE Schools Combined (CSC) study, a world-first trial of a combined, internet-delivered, school-based approach to preventing substance use, anxiety and depression, delivered to one of the largest adolescent cohorts in Australia (n=6,641). Having successfully implemented the trial and followed these students for 36 months, this project will extend follow-up of these students over the critical transition from secondary school into early adulthood to determine the long-term effectiveness of combined school-based prevention for substance use, anxiety and depression.

This study aims to determine whether the combined prevention model (CLIMATE Combined), which combines prevention programs for mental health (anxiety and depression) and substance use (alcohol and cannabis) will be more effective over the long-term than:

(1) school-based prevention as usual,

(2) stand-alone universal school-based substance use prevention, and

(3) stand-alone universal mental health prevention, in:

a) reducing the uptake and harmful use of alcohol and cannabis

b) reducing alcohol and cannabis related harms, and

c) reducing symptoms of anxiety and depression.

When investigating the superiority of the CLIMATE Combined program, this project will explore social network characteristics as both risk and protective factors in the development of anxiety, depression and substance use.

Co-Investigators: A/Prof Tim Slade, Prof Maree Teesson, A/Prof Nicola Newton, Dr Cath Chapman and Dr Louise Birrell