Attitudes to Drug Use
|Some evaluations have been concerned with attitudes to use. Attitudes are dispositions to evaluate an object either positively or negatively. In general, while attitudes are important context measures, they do not predict actual behaviour very well. They should not be used as a substitute for measures of behaviour (prevalence).|
The study by Harmon (1993) examined the effectiveness of the DARE programme in South Carolina, by comparing 341 fifth grade students to a comparable control group. Significant differences were found for belief in pro-social norms, association with drug using peers, positive peer association, attitudes to substance use and assertiveness. No differences were found however, on tobacco and alcohol use, in the last year or during the last month. The You and Your School Questionnaire were used to measure DARE objectives, and other factors associated with drug use. The questionnaire consists of 10 scales including Belief in pro-social norms, Social Integration, Commitment to school, Rebellious behaviour, Peer drug modelling, Attitudes against substance use, Attachment to school, Self-esteem, Assertiveness and Positive peer modelling.
This study was concerned with three major matters. The first was the extent to which peer group influence was significant using a longitudinal design so that selective friendship would be not be a factor. The second has to do with the precise identification of the peer group, particularly the importance of close friends vs. the wider peer group. The third question was the relative importance of peer group behaviour vs. peer group approval. The results based on 3,000 Irish school pupils showed that in relation to initiation to drug use, the most relevant group were best friends and that the perceived drug use of this person was the most potent influence.
The study would be of value for summative evaluation in that it would indicate some items for measuring peer influence that might of interest if the focus of the prevention programme was on peer influence.